Forum to look at reducing youth violence

A look at how Minneapolis’ Blueprint to Prevent Youth Violence has helped reduce violent crime and homicides will be the focus of a forum to be held in north Minneapolis on Friday. Congressman Keith Ellison and I will lead a discussion on the City’s efforts to reduce youth violence in Minneapolis and explore future initiatives to address the needs of youth, law enforcement and residents. The forum is free and open to the public.

Forum on Reducing Youth Violence in Minneapolis

3 to 5 p.m., Friday, May 1
North Community Youth and Teen Enrichment Center YMCA
1711 W. Broadway Ave., Minneapolis

The forum will look at how the City’s Blueprint can be adapted for use in other communities. The forum will also explore the role the federal government can play in partnering with localities on youth violence.

In January 2008, we launched the Blueprint to Prevent Youth Violence, a multi-faceted, multi-year action plan to attack the core issues behind the violence being inflicted on and by too many young people in Minneapolis. The Blueprint views youth violence as a public health epidemic which can be prevented. In the year since launching this effort, progress has been made on all 34 action items in the Blueprint and youth violence has fallen by double-digits.

We have a lot to discuss and highlight and are so pleased that Congressman Ellison has taken an interest in this issue.

Minneapolis is prepared for swine flu

The number of confirmed cases of swine flu in the U.S. continues to grow, with one suspected case now reported in the central Minnesota town of Cold Spring. There have been no reported cases in Minneapolis.

Although the swine flu has not been declared a pandemic, there are plans and procedures in place to ensure an effective response, particularly if the situation changes over time. City public health and emergency management staff are in frequent contact with State of Minnesota public health officials, and are following the City’s response plan as appropriate.

Minneapolis’ public health officials remind people to observe routine public health recommendations for preventing the spread of the flu:

  • Stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Wash your hands often to protect yourself from germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits. Keep yourself strong – and more resistant to disease – by getting plenty of sleep, staying physically active, managing stress, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious food.

If you become ill with flu-like symptoms including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea and have recently visited a location where influenza cases have been confirmed, you may wish to contact a physician, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms.

The City of Minneapolis has been preparing for the potential of a pandemic for a number of years. If you would like more information on the Swine Flu, or preparations you and your family should take, of information is available:

Minneapolis Public Health and Emergency Preparedness departments will continue to monitor the situation, and will provide public updates as appropriate.

New website celebrates city living

An awesome new highly-interactive web site LiveMSP.org helps people who want to learn more about city living in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The site showcases all of the cities’ neighborhoods, and educates people about home purchase/renovation incentives. The site is also a destination for people who already live here to share their enthusiasm for city living, find home renovation loan and grant programs, and stay current on local events and entertainment.

Simply put, LiveMSP.org is a comprehensive one-stop web site that celebrates city living and showcase the many opportunities available to enjoy life in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. According to the National Association of Realtors, 94% of homebuyers aged 25-44 years (61% of the homebuyer market) used the Internet to search for homes. The same study also reports that one in five buyers in the same age bracket use social networking sites every day.

Visitors to the website can link to Live MSP’s Facebook and Twitter pages and search real estate listings through the “Find a Neighborhood” feature on Realtor.com and OwnaHomeMN.org, a website created by the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers featuring quality, affordable homes.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul are joined at their borders, connected by major thoroughfares and a reliable and growing transit system. Both cities are known for their world-class natural, recreational, and cultural amenities. By working together, we hope to reduce residential vacancy, increase our cities’ resource base, and improve vitality and environmental outcomes by encouraging homeownership in existing, compact, walkable, neighborhoods. The LiveMSP.org web site is being funded by the Family Housing Fund, a non-profit with a mission to provide safe, affordable, sustainable homes to families and children in the MSP metro by partnering with the public and private sectors.

Crime continues dramatic decline in Minneapolis

Violent crime continues to fall dramatically in the City of Minneapolis for the third year in a row, according to stats from the Police Department. So far this year, only three homicides have occurred in Minneapolis, compared to 11 at this point last year and 18 the year before that. Violent crime has dropped more than 25 percent since 2007 and is down 18 percent since 2008. Property crimes also have declined 10 percent compared to last year and 23 percent since 2007. These declines in crime are great progress and the result of a community-wide effort to make Minneapolis a safe place to call home. But we’ve still got a long way to go. To keep crime down, we need to maintain tough law enforcement, stay focused on crime prevention, and deepen the connections between police and the people they serve.

Unemployment still lower in Minneapolis

For another month in a row, the March unemployment rate in Minneapolis continues to be lower than the metro region, lower than the state, and lower than the federal unemployment rates. March unemployment in Minneapolis was 7.4% (up from 7.1% in February) and metro area unemployment was higher at 8% (up from 7.8% in February). While unemployment increased in all major cities in the state, Minneapolis had the second lowest unemployment rate (after Rochester). The unemployment rate in Minneapolis is still low in comparison with the nation, the state and the metro area.

This is a tremendous accomplishment given that up until a few years ago Minneapolis historically has had a higher unemployment than our region, state and nation. Minneapolis is one of the only large cities in America today that has achieved this reversal, due in large part to city job placement strategies, which have trained and placed 10,000 dislocated and low income workers into good jobs since 2002. It’s also a good  sign that the new Minneapolis has the potential to lead Minnesota out of this recession.

Sweet “Caroline” and waiting for Mosaic

“Caroline, or Change”, the remarkable play running through June at the Guthrie, opens in a hot, humid basement in Lake Charlies, La. in the early Sixties. Caroline, the maid who spends her day there, begins by singing a song filled with Post-Katrina irony, about the state having no “underground” , only “underwater.”
       From that opening scene through the very end this was one of the most moving nights in a theater I have ever had. Please go see this great play, and use it to remember how the arts can transform the way we look at each other, especially across race and class.
     That was the idea behind starting the Mosaic celebration six years ago.   (www.MinneapolisMosaic.org)   In an increasingly diverse city, our differences can pull us apart. But sometimes art finds a way to see something that can  build a bridge. …or explain why one never got there.  That happpens in “Caroline” as an African American maid, and her campy R-and-B backup singers, and her singing washing machine and dryer (you gotta see that to understand), create a world that somehow reaches the Jewish boy living upstairs better than the emotionless world he lives in.
         That’s the transformation we hope for with Mosaic, which showcases arts groups from the many cultures of the city.  The night invites everyone to see themselves and someone else, on stage, the first Saturday night in June…..and we open the State and Pantages for free. Over the years we have seen not only diversity on stage but in the audience….and usually leave seeing something more about our city.
     “Caroline” is part of the Tony Kushner festival now going on at the Guthrie. Known best for “Angels over America”, Kushner’s work is all about using art to jar us into seeing the world differently. Any of the people I talked to who saw “Caroline” in New York or London said this is a far superior performance, and with many of the actors, including kids, from Minneapolis.
This goes to prove what I said a year or so ago. People who wanted their play to work in New Yrok used to try it out in New Haven before bringing  it to the big time. Now people try plays out in New Yrok before bringing them to the big time in the best theatetr city in the U.S…..Minneapolis.

Green jobs on black pavement

On Earth Day in one of the country’s greenest cities, one a day filled with great events, I was surprised to find my favorite was actually on a blacktop surrounded with massive trucks.

The event was just north of the University at Murphy Warehouse Company, which was cutting the ribbon for remarkable new system using engineering and prairie
plantings to keep stormwater on site, instead of flowing into the river.

They did it all without government prodding. They just got the need to protect our water. They also saw the the stormwater utility fee the city imposed a few years ago gave them an incentive to make a change.

Murphy is a 100-year-old company that started with horse and buggy deliveries and now has trucks and storage facilities around the state.

The CEO is a real visionary–Richard Murphy–who in his “spare time” teaches landscape architecture at the U.  He’s also led the company to plant prairie around its other warehouse facilities around the region.

The event showed me again that the real frontier of the GreenMovement is in the workplace. Enlightened companies like Murphy can show we can grow the economy AND protect our planet. And in doing it they create new green jobs for the growing number of companies who help Murphy and others make these changes.

I felt the same way later in the day at the ribbon cutting for an expansion of Impact Printing in north Minneapolis, which also also has a stormwater management system that keeps water from flowing into the Mississippi a few blocks away.

You will be hearing more about this kind of work over the next few weeks as we roll out more from our Green Jobs Institute.