Nexus believes that our regional economy depends on the development of a 21st century transit system that connects with a variety of transportation modes. We also know that as our region becomes more diverse, our regional economy depends on the success and contributions of people of all races, cultures, income levels and abilities. In order to see this realized, we must put in place a solid infrastructure that ensures traditionally marginalized communities are part of decision-making structures and benefiting from development opportunities in their neighborhood and region.
But we can’t do this alone. A lesson we learn over and over is the power of working together. Resources and staff are spread too thin and the problems too deep to be solved by one organization. Nexus brings many skills and resources to our partners, but one of the most valuable skills is our ability to work with multiple stakeholders, connecting and aligning their work to become part of larger solutions. Our transit-way engagement, which is currently focused in North Minneapolis, is one example.
In North Minneapolis, Nexus is aligning our support from foundations and the significant public investment in our transit-ways, with our work currently underway in the community. In late 2012, Nexus received a grant from the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation to create and support the “Bottineau Corridor Community Engagement Initiative.” Phase I (2012-2013) of the initiative, “Mining the Landscape,” assessed the capacity of community based groups, government agencies and other stakeholders to engage underrepresented communities, and identified current and emerging alliances and partnerships within and between communities along the Bottineau Line (now being referred to as the Blue Line). Phase II (2013-2014), “Building Community Based Power to Advance Local and Regional Equity,” will support a network of community based organizations to secure equity on a local level, and collectively align behind corridor-wide outcomes that address policies, transit funding, etc. Phase III (2014-2015), “Anchoring Change – Rooting Community Power and Cross-Sector Alignment” will create opportunities to impact decision, policies and systems, while strengthening relationships with government decision makers and other entities.
At the same time, Nexus is working with Hennepin County to integrate health equity into station area planning along with Blue Line. This work will evaluate the impact of decisions on low-income communities and communities of color, to help shape station area planning and inform policy-makers. In addition, we are helping to build the capacity of community based organizations to use a Health Equity Framework to influence station area policy decisions that will lead to improved health outcomes in communities impacted by concentrated health inequities. Nexus has been providing direct technical assistance and convening community stakeholders to build a cohort of community based organizations able to engage in specific station area planning processes in addition to moving a corridor-wide agenda.
Nexus is helping to ensure these bodies of work, and other North Minneapolis initiatives are connected (where appropriate and advantageous) to maximize the outcomes for each.
We believe some of this work can serve as a model for other corridors as they begin their development and planning.