Dazzle wants Frogtown to truly become an urban village.
Sayama, the Frogtown granny, hopes to improve transit connections.
And lifelong Frogtowner Earl desires a community where neighbors truly know each other.
Meet the cartoon characters of the “Frogtown Small Area Plan,” a new 125-page graphic novel created by area artist Mychal Batson, designed to blow the dust off of area planning documents and transform the St. Paul neighborhood’s desires into real public policy. In the ho-hum world of city planning documents, officials say Batson’s comic book has the potential to make small area plans truly engaging.
“Most of the plans do nothing, sit on a shelf,” said Caty Royce, director of the Frogtown Neighborhood Association. “We’re calling ours ‘A living document.’ ”
The project was about a year in the making, Royce said. So neighborhood activists turned to Batson — better known as @MycDazzle — to transform the issues Frogtown residents face and the changes they desire into something people would actually want to read and implement.
“I decided to make SMAPL into a graphic novel because we live in a picture-centric age where reading isn’t nearly as common as it used to be,” Batson, 30, wrote in an e-mail from Serbia, where he recently moved. “It seemed a graphic novel would be the perfect medium for expressing dense subjects like urban and small area planning.”
On Wednesday night, the plan was unveiled at a neighborhood gathering at the St. Paul City School. Count St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, who lives in the area and was at the unveiling, impressed.
“I was looking for a dry, boring document, but I can’t find it,” he said. “This is fun.”
City planner Tony Johnson, who is the planning department liaison to the neighborhood association, said each page oozes the neighborhood’s personality. “This is very much a Frogtown document,” he said.