Minneapolis Connects - February 2016

Minneapolis Connects: News and information from Minneapolis Neighborhood and Community Relations

February, 2016

Have a Big Idea for Minneapolis? Attend the Community Connections Conference on April 2nd

Conference video

The conference theme - Big Ideas: Your Minneapolis invites you to join neighbors, community members, non-profit organizations, business leaders, members of Minneapolis’ design community, developers and City and elected officials to think BIG about the future of Minneapolis. 

The conference features three tracks:  

Your City:  The Community Connections Conference will be the kick-off for Minneapolis 2040, a three-year planning process for the City’s Comprehensive Plan.  Minneapolis 2040 will be the City’s twenty-year vision to direct the logical and coordinated physical development of the city into the future.  Learn about the Comprehensive Plan process and participate in discussions on the big ideas for the direction of the city on such topics as growth, equity, resiliency, economic competiveness, and civic technology.

Your Neighborhood: The current neighborhood structure of the Community Participation Program is set to end in the year 2020. This is an opportunity for neighborhood organization staff, board members and residents to help plan a vision for the future of neighborhoods and their role in community beyond the year 2020.

Your Voice: Community engagement plays a crucial role in shaping City policy. This track will focus on how residents can engage with City leaders, learn how to serve on City boards and commissions and engage our cultural communities.

The 2016 Community Connections Conference will be held on Saturday, April 2nd from 8:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The conference is FREE to all participants.


Registration is set to begin the end of February. Visit the conference webpage for more information. 

"Immigration Affects Us All" Learning Lab draws over 30 participants

Immigration Learning Lab participants

On January 27th neighborhood residents and staff from seven different City departments gathered at the Mercado Central for NCR’s Learning Lab, Immigration Affects Us All. The Learning Lab featured NCR Community Specialists Abdirashid Ahmed, Mariano Espinosa and Michael Yang. Each presenter told of how he came to the United States, highlighted the unique issues facing his community, and offered suggestions on how to reach out to leaders and members of the East African, Latino and Southeast Asian communities.  

For more information, visit http://www.minneapolismn.gov/ncr/outreach/index.htm 


Meet a Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission Member: Raya Esmaeili

City Council Appointee  

Term: 1st two-year term

Ward: 10

Neighborhood: CARAG (Calhoun Area Residents Action Group) 


Sub-Committees:  One Minneapolis Fund Committee. 

  Raya Esmaeili

Raya grew up in Tehran, Iran, where she studied Urban Planning, before moving to Minneapolis for a master’s degree. She graduated from Humphrey School of Public Affairs in 2011 with an Urban and Regional Planning degree. After working and interning at a few different nonprofits in the city, she started working at the Metropolitan Council in 2013 where she works on land use and density related projects with local planners in the Twin Cities region.

In her spare time, Raya enjoys volunteering at the Orpheum Theater and Orchestra Hall (their volunteering programs have great perks!). Besides an avid supporter of local businesses, she also is an enthusiastic broomball player and enjoys exploring bike trails in the summer.

How long have you been active in your community and what made you get involved in community work?

Since I attended Humphrey School for my degree, having studied urban planning and being genuinely interested in planning related topics, I get involved in community and planning meetings. I enjoy contributing to projects, knowing what is in the pipeline for the City and feeling invested in the city I live in. I used to live in Loring Park neighborhood before moving to CARAG last year.

What do you like most about your neighborhood or community?

I personally see the whole city with all the neighborhoods as one big community. There are always opportunities to get involved at the neighborhood level, and there are many projects at the district and city level that affect all neighborhoods. I find it easy to be in the loop about all these projects and attend meetings and/or provide feedback when needed to influence the future of Minneapolis. It is comforting to know that involvement at any level I choose is so accessible in Minneapolis, and I think that’s a unique characteristic to cherish.

Are there other boards and committees you are or have been on? 

A few years ago I was involved with the Above the Falls Citizen Advisory Committee (AFCAC).

Do you have any tips for residents interested in running for neighborhood boards and/or City boards and commissions?

The only thing you need to do is to reach out!

City staff are always available and very helpful in responding to your questions regarding City boards and commissions.  Or, check out the website regarding openings and other avenues to get involved. If you are interested in your neighborhood board, they are always happy to have more people involved. So just call or email the person in charge to get started!


The “Meet a Commissioner” series of the monthly Minneapolis Connects newsletter is intended for readers to get to know representatives of the Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission (NCEC). The NCEC is a 16 member board. Seven members are appointed by the City Council and Mayor, one member is appointed by the Park Board and eight members are elected by neighborhood organizations.

The purpose of the Commission is to advise the Mayor and City Council on a wide range of community engagement issues. The NCEC is responsible for developing guidelines for the City’s principal neighborhood funding program, the Community Participation Program, as well as the One Minneapolis Fund and the Community Innovation Fund. The Commission also works to broaden participation on advisory boards and commissions and develops recommendations for improving the City’s public participation process.  


The Commission meets every 4th Tuesday of the month at 5:00p.m. Learn more about the Commission

Windom Park Citizens in Action Hosts Session on Islam

At its January 19th community meeting, the Windom Park Citizens in Action (WPCiA) hosted a special session to shed light on the Muslim community in Minnesota and address and discuss some of the misperceptions and myths that may keep neighbors apart.  In announcing the session, WPCiA stated that,

We have a special agenda set for this meeting, and we encourage residents of the neighborhood and beyond to join us for an interesting and educational conversation. We have invited representatives from the Islamic Cultural Community Center here in Northeast Minneapolis to talk with us about myths and misunderstandings, fact vs. fiction, related to the Muslim community here in Minneapolis as we work to combat "Islamophobia." After a presentation, we'll have time for questions from the audience.

Wafiq Fannoun

At WPCiA’s request, Islamic Cultural Community Center (ICCC) in Northeast Minneapolis agreed to help organize the session.  They arranged for Wafiq Fannoun, executive director of Mishkah University in Columbia Heights, to provide the presentation on Islam and facilitate the question and answer session that followed. According to Fannoun, there are 7-10 million Muslims in the United States, and 150,000 in Minnesota.

The approximately 30 people who attended the session were “really engaged in the discussion” according to representatives from WPCiA.  They view this as just a beginning of similar efforts to bring neighbors together and break down myths and barriers.  As Mr. Fannoun stated in his presentation, “Ignorance is our enemy.”


Shop the winter farmers markets in Minneapolis

Winter does not mean an end to local food and farmers markets. The season has begun for winter farmers markets.

It’s easy to buy local produce. Many of the markets accept “electronic benefits transfer” cards as payment to give residents on federal food assistance easier access to fresh, healthy food.

Local produce is nutritious and affordable. Buying food directly at a farmers market strengthens the community between the farmer and the eater, and it supports the regional economy by allowing the local farmer to keep 80 to 90 cents per dollar of sales.


Check out Homegrown Minneapolis for more ways to get healthy, local food on the table. Homegrown Minneapolis is a citywide initiative expanding our community’s ability to grow, process, distribute, eat and compost more healthy, sustainable, locally grown foods.

Nokomis East Neighborhood Association seeks Community Organizer

The Nokomis East Neighborhood Association (NENA) is hiring a part-time bilingual Community Organizer. This position will lead the organization’s outreach and engagements initiatives, including work with cultural communities, renters and grassroots leadership. Applications (including cover letter, resume and three references) should be emailed to nena@nokomiseast.org. Complete applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on March 25, 2016.

NENA logo

Upcoming events

February is Black History Month. Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African Descent have been recognized each February. 

See more Black History Month events on NCR's online calendar!

2/3 - and each Wednesday in February: Year 3 of the Black Identity Series

2/4: Kingfield Empty Bowls

2/6: Prospect Park Fire & Ice Festival

2/11: Loring Park Winterfest

2/12: TechLoop

2/13: Hennepin County Fix-It Clinic 

2/18: Black History Month "Evening of the Arts" Networking Soirée

2/20: Sheridan Neighborhood SNO Ball

2/21: East Isles Winter 311 Walking Tour

2/26: Sweethearts and Spirits: a benefit for the Seward Longfellow Restorative Justice Partnership


2/27: Bancroft History with Neal Baxter

2/29: NCR Learning Lab

Neighborhood and Community Relations Department

Director, David Rubedor 
Crown Roller Mill, Room 425
105 5th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 673-3737