“Art and farming join forces this fall when the Hmong American Farmers Association and a trio of Twin Cities artists add a new staple to the CSA produce box: art.”

Check out how Nexus’ partner, the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA), is getting creative this Thanksgiving by adding Hmong arts and culture to their community supported agricultural (CSA) share. Read the full MPR story here.

Listen to HAFA’s executive director and Nexus board member, Pakou Hang, talk about how community wealth building is grounded in cultural practices.


Traditional community development work focuses on the built environment. Nexus Community Partners believes that community development should also be mindful of the people who live in and interact with

the built environment every day. Nexus also believes that neighborhood- based development activities will only be successful in the long term if they are paired with strong community engagement efforts. To that end, Nexus supports community-based organizations in low-wealth neighborhoods to engage with and to reflect the vision and creativity of the people who live
and work there. Nexus also supports organizations that wish to integrate community engagement into their organizations and into their programming. Read more here; NEXUScase study 8 PAGE WEB[1]

On October 13, 2015, Nexus Community Partners hosted a “Strengthening Economic Opportunities” convening on the East Side of St. Paul . The event included a presentation on Nexus’ recently released “Briefing on Promising Workforce and Job Creation Models” and a panel discussion featuring Ted Howard, The Democracy Collaborative, Pakou Hang, Hmong American Farmers Association, Karla Miller, Northwest Area Foundation and Thomas Adams, Better Futures Minnesota. The discussion focused on how using a Community Wealth Building Framework could help to address deeply rooted racial and economic disparities and create opportunities for local and equitable ownership and control of wealth. You can find the entire briefing here. Briefing on Promising Workforce and Job Creation Models


Jay Bad Heart Bull

“Generations ago, one of my grandfathers was a tribal historian for my people, the Oglala Lakota of Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Amos Bad Heart Bull was a ledger artist who depicted many events that happened in the lives of my people and it is through those paintings that I have the ability to connect to my rich history. His artwork tells the story of how my people lived long ago with all the beauty and sadness that sweeping cultural change brings.

“Through it all, art has remained a catalyzing force for how my people communicate and is used to impart teachings whether through paintings, storytelling, or song. In fact, all three of those  media play an integral part in our spirituality as well, which permeates every aspect of our traditional lifestyle. And we are not unique in this regard as all people have historically used art as a way to engage and build a sense of community and identity.”

Read more here…

Elena GaarderNexus offers our biggest and proudest congratulations to our very own Elena Gaarder who is a 2015 Bush Fellow! Her incredible hard work that is rooted firmly with people in the communities that she works will only blossom and grow.

“In her community-based work, Elena Gaarder finds herself returning over and over to the same questions: What mix of policies, investments, partners and initiatives truly would shift the balance so that disadvantaged neighborhoods become opportunity-rich communities? And importantly, what can she do differently to be a more effective leader? These questions will drive her Bush Fellowship’s focus on deepening her abilities to build successful alliances and partnerships and on increasing her knowledge of social enterprise and worker cooperative models that have proven to transform the economics of communities across the U.S.”

We are so proud and ecstatic to support her on this amazing new journey! Congratulations, Elena!

Click here to meet all of the 2015 Bush Fellows.


“Nexus Community Partners believes that a competitive and inclusive region is one in which members of all racial, ethnic and income groups have opportunities to live and work in all parts of the region; have access to living wage jobs; and equitably benefit from local and regional opportunities.”

Click here to read more (Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Newsletter 2014; page 4).

Since 2001, Nexus’ partner City of Lakes Community Land Trust (CLCLT) has been fostering stewardship of perpetually affordable home ownership for low- and moderate-income families throughout Minneapolis. Part of this process includes purchasing and rehabilitating tax-forfeited, vacant properties that will remain perpetually affordable through the Community Land Trust.

Check out this video about one of the properties CLCLT purchased, rehabilitated, and is in the process of closing with one Minneapolis family:



Nexus is proud to partner with CLCLT as a Community Land Trust that is invested in and successfully ensuring community asset and wealth building through home ownership in Minneapolis. Keep up the great work CLCLT!

Learn more about land trusts and how to purchase a home through the Community Land Trust here.

Nexus is proud to acknowledge and commend the work of our former intern, Ashley James, on her excellent work in the Alameda County Assets Network in Oakland, California!

After graduating from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, Ashley completed her internship with Nexus Community Partners and the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities in the summer of 2013, and moved to Oakland, CA, to lead the below initiative with the California Asset Building Coalition. Congratulations, Ashley, on all your hard work! We look forward to hearing many more good things in your future!


Alameda County Assets Network Releases Consumer Education Tool

The Alameda County Community Asset Network (AC CAN), a countywide asset-building coalition in the San Francisco Bay Area, just released a new toolkit that is a financial education curriculum with a community consciousness. The toolkit uses popular education to develop critical thinking skills regarding the long-term cost and community impact of predatory financial products and services. Toolkit participants become more informed consumers, keeping more money in their pockets and in local communities. It was recently awarded the 2013 Innovation Award from the California Asset Building Coalition, who found it this year’s most promising strategy to reduce poverty.

Click here to explore the Toolkit.


“Why just workers? Why not owners?”

On Thursday, December 5th, 2013, over 40 community members braved the bitter Minnesota cold in order to share their reflections on why the cooperative model is important in communities of color as an asset/wealth building tool in the Twin Cities.

This Issue Series gathered a panel of four, fierce women of color including (pictured from right to left) LaDonna Redmond, Nieeta Presley, Pakou Hang, and Yolanda Cotterall, who shared their respective experiences working with cooperatives in the food justice movement, economic development, and the labor movement.

The event, hosted at Hope Community, Inc., was part of Nexus’ Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) Thursday Night Issue Series, which are free and open to the public and happen once each month from October to March.

Click on the below links to hear each speaker’s segment of the panel. Or click here to view the photo gallery of the event. 

LaDonna Redmond
Founder, Campaign for Food Justice Now
Education & Outreach Coordinator, Seward Co-op

“So this question of access to the market is really a political issue; it is not really about shopping…That’s one element of it, but the real question is can you own it? Can you own the co-op? And because of the cooperative principles, access to ownership is there and available…And that’s the essential question: How much are we willing to pay to become owners of businesses that will lift our communities out of poverty?”

LaDonna Redmond

Nieeta Presley
Executive Director
Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation

We’re talking about long-term; we’re talking about sustainability. We’re talking about futures, so that community folk don’t have to wait for [insert organization] to come along and do what the community knows that it needs. If you have your cooperative in place, and it’s built and it’s around real estate development, you can do your own thing. You can do it based on your members.”

Nieeta Presley

Pakou Hang
Executive Director
Hmong American Farmers Association

“There are institutional barriers against …what we are trying to do, so we have to create institutions themselves to fight against those same institutional barriers. And for me that’s why cooperatives are so important, because they are an institutional structure that allows us to combat some of these larger dynamics.”

Pakou Hang

Yolanda Cotterall
Greater Minnesota Program Director
Latino Economic Development Center

“There were only so many opportunities out there for economic development [for Latinos in rural Minnesota]…They [Latinos] were working as farm laborers, they were working in dairy farms, they were working in the meat-packing plants, they were working in all sorts of low-income jobs, and they were the skill – people – that were doing that work…And we started to look at that and think, ‘Well, why just workers? Why not owners?’”

Yolanda Cotterall

For more information about the BCLI Thursday Night Issue Series, the BCLI, or any upcoming events, please contact the program associate, Ms. Angie Brown, at abrown@nexuscp.org.