Streets.mn readers: Recent years have brought big changes in so many aspects of our lives. Streets.mn is no different! Prior to 2020, we provided a space to publish articles on a range of transportation and land use topics through our volunteer writers and editors.
Since then, the majority of our board has changed over, and we decided it was time to take the organization to the next level. We need your help to do that!
We need $5,000 by the end of August to keep our new, ambitious programs running. If you’re able to donate, thank you!
What are these funds for? We know that we’re hearing from only a small slice of people despite everyone being impacted by land use and transportation decisions. Broadening that outlook and going out into the community to find new voices has become our top priority.
We launched the following big projects in 2022 to start this important work.
Racial Equity Analysis
Most members of the board and many of our volunteers come from the groups we hear from a lot, which means it has been (and overall remains) a predominantly white and male organization:
- Just 20% of the 100 most recent stories were by women, although our female managing editor is working to recruit more.
- Three of our 13 board members are women; two are people of color.
We struggled for multiple years to do much beyond recognizing the problem. In 2022, we funded a racial equity analysis. The goal was to bring in an expert — and we found one in Dr. Cirien Saadeh — to dig into how we operate, who we talk to and what barriers exist that limit who wants to engage with us. We received the results of this analysis this spring and we’re starting the work this summer.
We’re committing to:
- Measuring BIPOC representation within our events, outreach and editorial efforts to add accountability toward our efforts to increase representation.
- Putting intentional effort and resources into building our relationships within BIPOC communities.
- Creating a shared vision for racial equity to hold ourselves accountable to our goals.
It’s going to take time, focus — and money — to implement, but we’re energized by having concrete steps we can take and track to stay accountable. We will update our readers and volunteers with periodic posts about our progress.
Streets.mn wouldn’t be a site without our volunteer writers, but we also recognized that we should try reaching out into the community in other ways to hear more stories. We launched our Crosswalks program to intentionally build relationships with journalists, new or established, who had story ideas about how transportation and land use issues impact communities of color.
Among the stories we have shared in our initial Crosswalks efforts:
- Community connector and activist Adrian Perryman wrote in August 2022 about “Central Honors Philando,” a fundraiser and community gathering that he founded in 2016, barely a month after his friend and former Central High School classmate was killed by police in Falcon Heights.
- Nina Raemont’s profile of Black Garnet Books in St. Paul this past February showcased the broad definition of inclusivity at the Twin Cities’ first Black-owned bookstore. Photos by Wolfie Browender, a regular contributor to Streets.mn, showcased the beautiful space that bookstore owner Dionne Sims has curated for the community.
We also recognized that to find new voices, we need to go to them. First-time writers may need support and encouragement; some potential contributors tell us they want to tell photo- or video-driven stories. We decided we needed a managing editor, someone who could seek out new voices in our communities, think about networking as a major part of their role and keep great content posting nearly every day.
In June 2022, we hired former journalist Amy Gage, a longtime volunteer writer and copy editor for Streets.mn, who has upped both the quality and quantity of our content. We have far fewer lulls on the site. Our stories are more intentionally shaped and rigorously edited; and, even more importantly, we’re hearing from new people!
Examples of topics and new writers (some featured on a recent episode of the Streets.mn podcast) include:
- Lisa Nelson, a volunteer leader on her neighborhood’s transportation initiatives, has written about street safety for all modes of travel, as well as her efforts to become a year-round multi-modalist, including with children in tow. Read her stories here.
- Our racial equity analyst, Cirien Saadeh, brought us a number of significant stories from the Legislature this past session, including an ambitious two-part look at how Twin Cities neighborhoods are rebuilding after the civil unrest that followed George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020.
- A Little Free Library series showcased the familiar book boxes not only in the privileged neighborhoods where readers expect to see them but in more diverse and economically challenged communities such as Rondo and the North End in St. Paul. We also highlighted the “Read in Color” initiative that is bringing culturally specific books to young BIPOC readers.
Amy also has built relationships with diverse publications in the Twin Cities community, including the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and the Minnesota Women’s Press; and we are grateful to editors and advisors at BLCK Press, Minnesota Reformer and Sahan Journal for generously sharing their time and expertise.
Finally: We hosted a Contributors’ Workshop in north Minneapolis last February to encourage more people to share their stories and learn new skills. We also hold events, such as our upcoming annual picnic, where readers and potential contributors can meet our board of directors and other like-minded people.
We also wanted to think outside of just written articles. Streets.mn had its own podcast some years ago, and we decided to bring it back! The Streets.mn Podcast is a fantastic venue for interviews and discussions.
Over the course of 26(!) episodes since May 2022, we’ve presented on topics like:
- Causes and solutions to the Bus Driver Shortage,
- Urban Highway Removal efforts in Minnesota
- Building Community through Bicycles with 30 Days of Biking and the Joyful Riders.
Donate to Streets.mn
Intrigued? Maybe even impressed?
We increased our budget to tackle these new projects, but without donations, our momentum will slow — a lot. We need to raise $5,000 by the end of August to keep everything moving forward.
We greatly appreciate whatever you can chip in!
- One-time donations or ongoing support are both meaningful. Streets.mn is a public charity so your donations are also tax deductible!
- Check to see if your employer matches donations to charities or nonprofits.
- Donations of your time help, too, through volunteering for a committee, editing daily articles, writing an article or maybe even joining the board (recruitment season is just around the corner!).
Streets.mn has been an important part of the transportation and land use discussion in Minnesota for over a decade. Please join us in keeping it going for many years to come.