In the past few weeks, in a variety of settings, the following question, as it relates to community development goals, in some form or another has been asked, "What does success look like to you?"
Another way the question has been phrased is as follows, "What does success look like?".
I work and live in North Minneapolis. And like a lot of other people, I care deeply about seeing our community become a more healthy and stable place to live, work and play. But when it comes to the question of, "So what does that look like?". I struggle to answer.
I mean there's a lot of standard stuff you can talk about like employment, and health and education and public safety. There's a lot of indicators of what success, or positive change might look like.
But this week, do you want to know what I'm fixated on?
I want to see 26th Avenue North without bumps.
Yes, you heard it, I want to drive down this main arterial in North Minneapolis without feeling like my car is going to be eaten by 1 of 1000 potholes, bumps or craters.
Okay, I know, that may seem like a minor thing. Especially at this time of the year when many Minneapolis streets have been destroyed by snow and salt.
What really ticked me off was driving in other parts of Minneapolis this weekend, especially more wealthy parts of Minneapolis where the roads seemed fine, one might even call them luxurious. Why do some parts of the city get a safe, smooth road, and me and my neighbors get bumpy and dangerous? And it's not like 26th Avenue North just got bad this year. It's been horrible for at least 6 years, the entire time I've lived in my house in the Jordan neighborhood.
Maybe the condition of the road is minor thing. But maybe it's not. Maybe it's a sign. Yup, you heard me, A SIGN. Or a lamppost. Or something metaphorical like that, you get what I mean.
Maybe it's a sign of what city or county government thinks of our part of the city. Maybe it shows that decision makers (who does decide which roads get paved and re-done?) are putting us low on the priority list when it comes to allocating resources? Maybe it's our fault for not demanding a new road?
I just want to know the answer to this question, "Why can one community's road be left to sink into itself and others are constantly maintained and well kept?"
Now of course, I'm not stupid. So I could probably list 100 reasons. Some real, some couched in conspiracy, others based on issues of race, class and place.
My point is this, 26th Avenue North sucks as a road.
I think there are a lot of things we could be doing to make our neighborhood more healthy, more safe, more beautiful. We need investments in people, we need investments in place, and we need them at the same time.
And while we're making progress on indicators of success like employment, education and health, can we also demand that our roads are as well taken care of as in other parts of the city? I think investments into roads, parks, streetlights, public art, etc.. mean a lot and would add tremendous value to our collective efforts in North Minneapolis.