By Lee Egerstrom
The city of Minneapolis has designated the Phillips Neighborhood, including the American Indian Cultural Corridor along Franklin Avenue, as one of two geographic areas to be “Green Zones” for future environmental and economic development.
The city will be reaching out to Native and Indigenous organizations this month for participants to serve on a task force to implement the city’s plans, said Kelly Muellman, the city’s sustainability program coordinator.
Just what the Green Zone designation will mean going forward will be determined by affected community members and organizations, she said.
The Minneapolis City Council approved the two Green Zone designated areas in late April. A similar large area of Minneapolis’ North Side was the other designated area along with the Phillips Neighborhood just south of the city’s Downtown area.
In a broadly worded statement of intentions, however, the city said the Green Zone designation will seek to promote “environmental equity,” including racial equity, improve health and support economic development.
The city’s statement announcing council approval of the two Green Zones said key interests involve “greening” local businesses, housing quality and availability, community gardens, protecting the most vulnerable and “building community.”
Community participation will be necessary for such goals to be achieved, Muellman said. While a call for participation will be made during June, she added, interested people and groups can express their interest by contacting her or the Minneapolis City Coordinator’s Office of Sustainability.
Several cities across the country have various forms of Green Zones that are intended to help guide developments and environmental and health quality for vulnerable neighborhoods. Two programs that catch attention in Minneapolis are the zones in Los Angeles and Buffalo, N.Y.
Three Green Zone communities in Los Angeles focuses on air quality, Muellman said. Buffalo’s program is much different; operated by a nonprofit organization for the city, it focuses on housing for low-income households.
Preliminary planning suggests the Minneapolis Green Zones will be “a combination of Los Angeles and Buffalo programs,” Muellman said.
The concept has been evolving over the past two years with some participation of people in the Phillips Neighborhood. A former employee of Little Earth of United Tribes and from the Indigenous Peoples Task Force were among them.
A Green Zones Workgroup has stated broad objectives that include focusing on the “most vulnerable,” described as low-income, over-burdened, people of color, indigenous people, youth, disabled and older adults.
It also called for “community-led planning” and “homegrown development and community ownership.”
How that plays out will depend on community involvement. Muellman said it is imperative that Native organizations and leaders join the forthcoming task force that will define the Minneapolis Green Zone objectives.
Kelly Muellman can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Minneapolis City Coordinator’s Office of Sustainability’s website is: www.minneapolismn.gov/sustainability