NEW In her makeup studio in the heart of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, Sumaya Keynan painted a metallic shade onto a customer’s eyelids on a recent Saturday evening.
Keynan could have set up shop anywhere. But like so many Minnesota Somalis, she felt the pull of Cedar-Riverside — or “Little Mogadishu,” as the locals call it.
“We have so much history here,” she said. “We were raised in this neighborhood.”
The Somalis aren’t the first to feel that way about the half-square-mile area. In the mid-1800s, immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia were the first settlers, and for a time, the neighborhood had the highest concentration of Swedes in the state, according to the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. In fact, Cedar Avenue was nicknamed “Snoose Boulevard” — a reference to the moist powder tobacco many Swedes used.
“I call here home because I’m here almost 12 to 14 hours a day,” Ibrahim said of the area. “Home is where you’re interacting with the people and making a difference in your community.”
For her, Cedar-Riverside is a safe place where people greet one another on the street, and everyone’s an “auntie” or “uncle.”
And no one is an outcast.
“It doesn’t belong to the Somali community,” she said. “It belongs to all residents and people who live and work here.”