Connecting Communities to Development
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.
Transit Engagement in North Minneapolis
Nexus’ transit development work has been focused in North Minneapolis along the planned Blue Line light rail extension. Nexus aligned our support from foundations and the significant public investment in our transit-ways, with our long-standing relationships 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 Blue Line. Phase II (2013-2014), “Building Community Based Power to Advance Local and Regional Equity,” supported 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. This included the creation of the Blue Line Coalition to bring community voices to decision making tables. Phase III (2014-2015), “Anchoring Change – Rooting Community Power and Cross-Sector Alignment” created opportunities to impact decision, policies and systems, while strengthening relationships with government decision makers and other entities.
At the same time, Nexus worked with Hennepin County to integrate health equity into station area planning along with Blue Line. This work evaluated 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 helped 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.
The Blue Line Coalition is currently run from the Northside Funders Group. Nexus continues to participate in the Blue Line Coalition and health equity work, and provide technical assistance and support to community-based partners along the Blue Line.