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Humphrey policy students meet their neighbors

The following entry was written by Humphrey Policy Student and CHANCE member, Sarah Martyn Crowell.

About a year ago, a small group of Humphrey grad students, staff, and faculty started a movement to create better relationships and connections between the West Bank campus of the University of Minnesota and the Cedar Riverside neighborhood. The group is called CHANCE (Cedar Humphrey Action for Neighborhood Collaborative Engagement).

Several months ago, the CHANCE group decided to throw a neighborhood party, calling it the West Bank Celebration. The purpose was to bring a variety of people from the University and broader Cedar Riverside neighborhood together. We hoped to create new connections and instill a more encompassing sense of community, as well as to celebrate the many community partnerships and accomplishments over the past year.

Bedlam Theater, a local community theater on the West Bank, housed the event. HPIM1935.JPG
We transformed the stage into an elegant dining room using tables and linens from a local church, mirror and candle centerpieces, and stringing lights around the room. Eighty people attended - neighborhood residents, leaders, and organizations; U of M and Augsburg faculty, staff, administration, and students; and many more.

We worked hard to create a welcoming environment that celebrated the neighborhood’s accomplishments while also encouraging new people to get to know each other. We intentionally mixed up the people at each table, so new connections could be made. We encouraged constructive community dialogue by asking each person to talk about why they were there, their experiences with the Cedar Riverside neighborhood, and why the community was important to them.

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Strangers became friends and new connections for potential partnerships were made. Most importantly, the event helped to extend the notion of community to include both the University and the Cedar Riverside neighborhood. The event filled us with hope that as students, we could make a difference. Moreover, we began to see that the vision of inclusive community is possible and that we weren't alone in wanting to see it happen.

You can find out more about CHANCE and how to get involve on their website: http://www.hhh.umn.edu/projects/chance/index.html

Comments

Kudos to Sarah and all of the planners of the West Bank Celebration. It was a wonderful event that achieved the purposes of making people feel welcome, mixing particiants so that new relationships were formed and helped to create and extend networks of people committed to building community. The pre-work in creating this event was apparent in the ways its goals were seamlessly achieved, at least from the perspective of this participant.

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs