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“I think it’s a good idea,” said Yang, who attends Columbia Heights High. “I see a lot of my neighbors, but I don’t know them personally. We don’t talk. If we did get to know each other, it could be a really close neighborhood.”
A little nudge from city leaders could help overcome some initial hesitations about different cultures, some say.
“I don’t think people are connecting like they should. When people don’t understand cultures, they tend to be reserved,” said Bill Diggs, owner of the Pit Stop Chill & Grill. Diggs said he supports efforts to establish neighborhoods.
“I think it’s a good thing. People need to get to know each other,” he said.
Neighborhoods will also help raise the profile of their communities.
“A lot of people don’t know about this area, how nice it is, how quiet it is. They don’t realize what an asset it is,” said Betty Bjerken.
Brooklyn Park has just hired a neighborhood relations specialist to help establish neighborhoods. Josie Shardlow, who has a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, started in the role this week.
“Her primary duties are to develop and create neighborhoods, working with residents in a grass-roots way,” said Elizabeth Tolzmann, Brooklyn Park community engagement coordinator. “She’s really starting from scratch. We are following the St. Louis Park model. We want to build neighborhood and community connections at a grass-roots level. Residents define the neighborhoods and boundaries.”
The neighborhoods effort is part of the city’s larger community engagement initiative.
Brooklyn Park is using a neighborhood tool kit created by University of Minnesota graduate students to help residents start connecting. The 45-page document provides background, tips and resources for neighborhood organizers.
Shannon Prather • 612-673-4804