A Broader Framework for Economic Development:

Nexus Community Partners Elevates Community Wealth Building in the Twin Cities

Juxtaposition Arts, Broadway,North Mpls

In 2015, Nexus approved a new strategic plan that affirmed our mission of building more engaged and powerful communities of color. As part of the process, we clarified our approach to achieving the mission and identified three core ingredients to ensure just and equitable communities:

  • Authorship: Engaging community

In a strong, equitable and just community, all members are engaged in and have authorship of their lives and their future. Nexus builds infrastructure for stronger community engagement learning and practice.

  • Leadership: Cultivating power

In a strong, equitable and just community, all members are seen as leaders, are given ample opportunities to grow in their leadership, and are able to represent their communities in multiple spaces. Nexus invests in and cultivates leaders of color who are working to advance a broader agenda for equity.

  • Ownership: Building community wealth

In a strong, equitable and just community, all members are afforded ample access points to generate wealth and to own the wealth they have helped to generate. Nexus challenges practitioners, community leaders and investors to use a community wealth-building framework to revitalize our communities.

As part of the focus on ownership, Nexus expanded our individual asset and wealth building work to include a more comprehensive community wealth building framework.

Community wealth building is a place-based, systems approach to community economic development that ensures local and broad-based ownership; develops cooperative and other reinforcing economic enterprises; utilizes culturally-based economic models; invests in assets that are rooted locally; and engages the procurement power of institutional partners. CWB is grounded in the values of equity, culture, mutuality and stewardship. (See our short community wealth building film here)

In 2016, we carried out a number of activities targeted at “Seeding” and elevating the framework, building shared knowledge and developing partnership to carry our community wealth building work forward. Over the summer, Nexus hosted a three part learning series that focused on the role of anchor institutions and worker owned business models in building community wealth, as well as a session on new financial tools being deployed to promote local and broad based ownership.

In the fall, we partnered with Oakland- based Project Equity to conduct an ecosystem mapping exercise with cross sector partners to begin building an infrastructure in the Twin Cities to support the growth of Worker Cooperatives of Color. Our work in the “seeding” phase included developing and presenting an analysis in partnership with the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) around the potential for business conversions to worker ownership. (Read the report, “Worker Ownership A Pathway to Strong Local Economies”)

In 2017, Nexus will focus on cultivating the seeds planted in 2016. Efforts will include launching a Black Cooperative Economics Academy; convening a cohort of stakeholders to build a network of Technical Assistance providers of color; strengthening relationships with key organizations, institutions and community leaders around cooperative models, anchor procurement and financial tools; targeted regranting and finally, partnering with the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation’s C3 VISTA program to develop a Community Wealth Building Cohort.

Want to learn more? Please contact Elena Gaarder at egaarder@nexuscp.org to learn more.

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]

“Boards and commissions are important bodies for impacting communities at the regional and local levels. They are instrumental in shaping key policy decisions, as well as designing and providing input on administration of city services. A unique partnership between the City of Minneapolis and Nexus Community Partners works to improve racial equity in board and commission membership, which in turn influences major policy decisions toward more equitable outcomes.

fellows

“The City of Minneapolis has over 50 volunteer-based boards, commissions and advisory committees, whose input and advice constitutes a major component of the City’s community engagement work. Approximately 600 volunteers serve on these boards and commissions.[1] As such, the City has seen board and commission service as an important leverage point for advancing racial equity. Currently, people of color represent 25 percent of the population, but only 16% of the membership of boards and commissions. It is projected that by 2040, people of color will be 40 percent of the population[2]. The City of Minneapolis recognizes that in order to be effective in their work and to truly represent the interests of all of the city residents, membership of the City’s boards and commissions must reflect the diversity of the community.” Read the full article here.

“When our partnership of more than 25 community organizations presented its “Vision and Agenda for Racial and Economic Justice” to Minneapolis City Council members and Mayor Betsy Hodges in January, we came in the spirit of partnership and collaboration. We know — because our communities are experiencing it — that the racial disparities in our city are destructive to our social and economic fabric. We came with the readiness and willingness for the hard work it was going to take to break down the barriers to success for all Minneapolis residents.” Read more.

 

Lyndale Neighborhood Association is a partner in Nexus’ Building the Field of Community Engagement Initiative. Their “Community Conversations” is one way LNA is deepening their community engagement work and demonstrating what it means to be a responsive, engaged organization. 

“During the past year LNA began a new strategy to engage Lyndale’s diverse community members through a series of community conversations. The goal of the conversations is to understand the value people place on their connections in the neighborhood, discover what they want for Lyndale, and build community. This article is a summary of what we have heard so far.” Read more

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:

http://vimeo.com/80950974

House

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.

JayAndSasha

This afternoon, Danielle Mkali of Nexus had the opportunity to listen to Jay Bad Heart Bull, Daniel Yang and Sasha Houston-Brown of the Native American Community Development Institute explain their upcoming Mayoral forum on Thursday, October 17th and their voter engagement efforts.

Why does Minneapolis need and American Indian Mayoral Forum?

Over the past two years NACDI has been doing culturally specific voter engagement efforts. Last year, Daniel Yang as a part of his work with Wellstone Action and a partnership between NACDI and Little Earth of United Tribes launched an overwhelmingly successful voter engagement and registration effort at Little Earth.

This year, NACDI is focusing on the Mayoral election as well as rank choice voter education. Which as Houston-Brown puts it, “whether you have a GED or Phd no one really knows much about rank choice voting.” There will be a rank choice education session at Little Earth on Wednesday, October 30th.

NACDI works to make Native American culture and spirituality a part of their day -to-day work and so it should in elections and voter engagement as well.

“We needed a native specific forum to excite our community and engage in them in the process. We are not only reactive but we will inform and guide the process.” said, Bad Heart Bull.

The idea of having the Mayoral candidates come to Franklin Ave, to NACDI and our community is important, too often the Native community doesn’t see themselves or their communities vision represented in local political forums.  Houston- Brown explained that, “I haven’t heard any (Mayoral) candidates discuss the Native American vision for our community. We are really left out of all of that. We will be exposing candidates, to all of the issues, sovereignty and tribal offices in the city, the assets and challenges of our community. We have one of the largest populations of Urban American Indians in the country. “

The forum plans to focus on issues of sovereignty, health, education and what is on the Minneapolis American Indian community’s hearts and minds.

The Minneapolis American Indian Mayoral Forum takes place this Thursday, October 17th, 7:00-8:30pm at NACDI 1414 East Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, reception; 6:00pm, forum 7:00-8:30pm.