Time to Intervene

West Bank friends,

The West Bank is fantastic – but you know this already, right? It’s full of character, creativity, and AMAZING businesses. Our locally owned Minnesota businesses outnumber chains 27 to 1! That’s an amazing ratio of independent awesomeness we’d love to maintain. The WBBA is working hard to help us keep the rich tapestry of unique businesses we have in our district strong.

But there’s another area where we really need to improve, and I’m asking for your help.

Many of us walk a lot in the neighborhood. We walk to and from the trains, from meeting to meeting, store to restaurant. (Maybe more often when it’s not snowing. 😉 )

The Cedar Ave improvements are going to be great. But as far as the visual appeal of our district is concerned, we’ve got a long way to go. There’s a lot of trash blowing in, a lot of graffiti, and – some buildings in need of help.

In 2014, we helped remove over 100 bags of trash and 100 counts of graffiti from our neighborhood. We did this with the help of amazing volunteers and with our partners at the Safety Center, the West Bank Community Coalition, the West Bank CDC, Augsburg, Brian Coyle Center and more. We also awarded thousands in facade grants to improve local properties through the City of Minneapolis’ Facade Grant program, helping leverage tens of thousands of dollars to improve the neighborhood.

But things could still be better.

When you step off the light rail and walk into the neighborhood, there are a lot of overgrown areas full of trash in your view and in your path as you walk to area businesses. There’s still a lot of graffiti left to remove. We still have some storefronts with boarded up windows, or hard to read signage (if there’s signage at all.)

If you look at our neighborhood through the city’s level of need – ALL of our areas are high priority – “Intervene.”

Well, it’s high time we did that – and I think we can do it better if we do it together.

Here’s what we’ll be doing at the WBBA to help address these issues:

  • In 2015, we’ll be increasing our quarterly cleanups to monthly. More hands, more hours, more trash and graffiti removed.
  • We’re creating an inventory of “hot spots” to keep track of and make sure we’re checking them regularly for trash and graffiti removal.
  • We’ve purchased the right tools to help remove some of the more difficult etched-in-glass graffiti so we can go out and help businesses with this process.
  • We’re helping out some of the small businesses with translation, as well as the application and contracting process so that they’re able to utilize programs like the Facade grant program.
  • and we’re applying for lots of funding to offer continued Facade grant matching, with some additional incentives for projects that involve local artists for murals or signage painting.

But to make these efforts successful, to really make a visible impact in our district, it will take all of us working together.

Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Participate in or refer someone to the Facade Grant program. We currently have $8,603 available left for the year. We’re applying for more funds for next year, but only have until the end of the year to use the current funds. Don’t you want to see those dollars go to the West Bank? We do! So if you have a project you’ve been waiting on, or know a neighbor that could use a little incentive – don’t wait!
  • Join us for a cleanup. We’ll be doing these monthly in 2015 – and if you’re interested in joining us, email info@thewestbank.org. Or, share the invites as they come with your staff members. A few hours a month go a long way! (And the more quickly we remove the graffiti, the less likely it is to return!)
  • Let us know when you see new graffiti – especially tags that haven’t been removed yet. We can come help remove it and/or get some paint donations to help you re-paint! Take advantage of this free opportunity before city citations come rolling around – our cleanups are a lot more fun (and free.) We can even leave extra supplies with you so you can take care of stuff as you see it.

Neighborhood improvement doesn’t have to mean a lack character. It’s the same place we love, with a little more art and a little less trash. A little more green space and little less graffiti… a little less snow and a little more sun.  Well, we may have to wait a little bit on that last one, but there’s no reason why we have to wait on the rest!

Looking forward to making the West Bank a continually improving place to live, learn, and work with you!


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