Here to Stay: The People Behind Hope

people accomplishing together

Our stories lift up the voices and celebrate the lives of people who are engaged in community to learn, lead and help shape their community. Watch the video.

Eduardo Morales

Mural Participant/Artist

“To me Hope means a lot of things. It means a change of my life actually…I think it’s creating something beautiful, whether it’s with meeting new people or creating something beautiful for the community. Personally, it’s opportunity. Cause it took me out of the streets. It put me in a better place.”

Jordan Hamilton

Artist and Lead Facilitator

“Hope is important to myself and to the community because it provides a space for you to build your leadership, to build skills and also a space to express yourself. Hope has helped me shape and develop my role in my community. It’s definitely helped me reaffirm my position in it as a leader and as an artist.”

Jacob Virden

Board Member, Participant and Community Leader

“That was a huge turning point in my life where I saw my peers taking action on something that they cared about. I saw young leaders who were well prepared and researched and were connected to mentors, and connected to a broader community. So from there I went through the training and after the training, Hope has continued to provide a platform for me to act and to reflect and continue to grow and continue to learn.”

Kristy Clemons

Participant and Community Leader

“Being in that space and being able to not only create new relationships, but learning how to facilitate a conversation was huge for me because I never had the opportunity. Just the experience of having the opportunity to do something about the many issues that I care about and a community that, that is really supporting and honest and accountable and wise has been a gift.”

Glenda Criss


“This is the community I love. The entrepreneur training was fantastic… As a matter of fact, I’m going into a new venture because of Hope. It’s opened up a new path for me.”

Yusuuf Mohamed

Childcare Center Owner

“I don’t think this neighborhood would be the same if there’s no Hope Community here. …it was shocking for me, you know, why build it for this neighborhood the way it is, but I start trusting them when build the second building and the third building and the things are changing. I said then, I can show you now and that is the reason I am here right now. Hope is giving us everything, tools we need, this neighborhood to be safe. They are pushing day after day.”

Char Madigan


“To begin, we were just little. We were temporary shelter—an oasis. Sanctuary for women and kids who were homeless. And, we had the space, and the goal was just to provide some safety and community for people who were pretty isolated. And it was pretty dark times for them. Some people assume that the problems of the inner city can be solved by getting rid of the inner city people. And we had learned before that the people weren’t the problem, the people were the solution.”

Heidi Barajas

Board Member/Associate Dean and Professor, University of Minnesota

“At the time that I came in, the University wasn’t as far as they were in understanding: how do you engage in community in a very respectful and mutually beneficial way? Hope had that already. Let me give you an example:

When Hope became involved in the food desert, the idea that Minneapolis and St. Paul in the urban areas have a lack of fresh foods available to people-people to build healthy lives. And what Hope does, is say, we have this land available. Does anyone want to come talk about this? It’s a very different model than bringing in other experts to tell people what to do. And to appreciate what people need in their own lives is the first piece of information that you need.

There is so much talent, there are so many assets. It’s amazing to see the people who come through here, who without that opportunity, those partnerships, that bringing together and leveraging of resources, they would not become who I’ve seen people become here. And people need to invest in that, because that’s real. ”

Penny Winton

Supporter and Donor

“It’s such a successful community project. It’s really important to support it. Its effect is far reaching, I mean, look at it! It’s on two major crossroads-Portland and Franklin. The positive things it is doing is spreading. And if it were to degrade back to what it had been, that would spread also. As far as urban development goes, it’s a brilliant example of what can be done. And it has to be maintained.”

Shelley Martin

Participant and Community Leader

“I certainly wouldn’t be who I am had I not come here. I don’t know if I’d be as good of an organizer. Or have, at least, the tools that I got from being a part of SPEAC.”

Chaka Mkali

Director of Organizing and Community Building

“When you look at the mural program, you have different people having to negotiate, having to problem solve, having to figure out what is going to be the center of the image, where are we going to place it…so they run it. They come up with the ideas, so when we sit down, they come up with the curriculum, they come up with the agenda, they order the paint, they go to the businesses. The fact that I’m standing here, and not doing anything, and that they’re doing the work is a testament to what we talk about in terms of building and developing leadership.”

Muna Abdirahman

Board Member, Former Resident and Participant

“At Hope Community, it’s not just providing an affordable apartment, it’s about how can we help people succeed? How can we invest in people so that they can advance in their education, so that they can be homeowners one day, so that their kids can go to college?”

Andrew "Dhop" Hopkins

Community Outreach Manager

“We don’t work from a deficit type of a model, we work from a model that people bring strengths and if we, together, can figure out what those strengths are and some passions behind it then that’s how they’re able to take ownership inside of the work that we do with them.”

Mary Keefe

Executive Director

“What we’re doing here, we describe it sometimes as building power spaces and power places. The housing here is very impressive because it was an abandoned area, and there are very impressive, well designed buildings, but at the same time, we’re creating these power spaces where people can come together and help create the future of their neighborhoods. So it’s really the two of those things coming together that creates what Hope Community is.”