“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?”
Children's Village Vision
The Children’s Village vision expressed what we heard from neighborhood residents – building on the strengths of the community. The vision focused on the importance of affordable housing and cultural diversity. It was a vision that preserved existing housing and included parks, pathways, and green areas; and that would result in a safe and healthy neighborhood.
The History Behind the Vision
What we heard through our Community Listening projects was invaluable as Hope’s plans for growth were maturing. In the context of our listening and our growing work on the Hope Block, we began to develop a vision of what our neighborhood might look like.
We came to called it an agitational vision, and agitate it did. The vision challenged people’s view of what was possible in this neighborhood. Download the original Children’s Village Vision Brochure from the Publications page.
The Hope block in the late 1980s and early 1990s was representative of the worst of the illegal activity and deterioration in Minneapolis. By the end of the 1990s we had totally transformed it. But when we visited with then-Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, she said, “Your block is fine, but that is not going to make the difference. It’s not enough.” She went on, “What about those places across the street?” At the time she was getting a lot of pressure about our neighborhood, so she constantly took the opportunity to challenge us. Soon we produced the Children’s Village vision. When she saw it she was shocked. “I didn’t think you would go that far!” she said.
The Children’s Village vision emerged through connections with a local business owner and architects intrigued by the possibility for change. In 1999 Hope Community publicly introduced the Children’s Village vision for more than 16 square blocks in the area surrounding Hope. Six-foot-high, colorful drawings hung on our Community Room wall showing a revitalized neighborhood with infill housing, carriage houses on the alleys, pocket parks, and playgrounds. A “yellow brick road” pathway connected the blocks to each other and to Peavey Park. There was a bridge over the freeway that had divided the neighborhood in the 1960s, and the drawing showed hundreds of units of housing built on the bridge.
The Children’s Village was always meant to be an inspirational vision, not a development plan.
With city officials counseling us not to build on Franklin Avenue because it was a wasteland, we wanted to show another way. But the drawing included the Hope Block, declaring it a real place in the city. The reaction was strong. There were those who were ready to sign on, and others who thought we were crazy. Our challenge was to begin to make the vision real.