It’s a beautiful day to change neighborhoods

Area student residents have ample opportunities to assert local political changes.

Paul Buchanan

In recent years, the University of Minnesota has partnered with local neighborhood associations in a joint venture called The Alliance. The University has been working with neighborhood residents, local business associations, the student government and the city of Minneapolis to develop a vision for the area, but there is one last piece to the puzzle: you. We canâÄôt do what we need to do to make your neighborhood a better place to live without your participation. Student Neighborhood Liaisons encourage you to get involved in the neighborhood and in your community by any means possible. If you live in the Como, Marcy-Holmes or Prospect Park neighborhoods, you may already know about Student Neighborhood Liaisons (SNL). You may have met or seen us along our regular door-to-door routes around the neighborhoods or found one of our fliers fluttering in your doorway when you returned from class. The SNL program came into existence at the beginning of the 2008-âÄô09 school year, and is a result of the work that The Alliance has been doing with neighborhood organizations and Minneapolis over the past three years. We work with University administration, Minneapolis City Council members and neighborhood associations in order to make your neighborhoods safer, more vibrant and more responsive places to live. We are a group of student community builders and organizers. We facilitate venues and opportunities for communication, participation and interaction between everyone who lives in the neighborhoods where we currently work. We accomplish this through disseminating information by door-knocking and by hosting neighborhood events like the Como Cookout, block parties and activities on National Night Out. Our goal is simple: To raise the awareness that oneâÄôs actions off-campus directly affect the lives of residents. Student Neighborhood Liaisons want to foster mutual respect among students and area residents, and to protect against negative or disrespectful actions which can have a negative impact on the University and erode the image of students. We therefore promote student involvement on the block and in area neighborhood organizations. Neighborhoods become better places when neighbors know one another; at least by name. Just knowing your neighbor makes your neighborhood a safer place. You can tell if someone lurking around your neighborâÄôs house is actually your neighbor and is locked out, or if it is someone who is supposed to be locked out but is looking for an easy way in. Neighborhoods become vibrant and politically powerful when blocks organize together. The civil rights movement started small but ended very large. You would be surprised how much you can change with just the people on your street. You could get more lighting installed, get potholes repaired immediately, increase police patrols, get drug dealers out and bring families back. The possibilities go only as far as your imagination. If you live in Minneapolis, you have local representation. There is a neighborhood organization working in your neighborhood to make it a better place to live. Check out the Neighborhood Revitalization Program Web site at www.nrp.org to see what the city and your neighborhood are doing together and to find out how you can get involved in making a difference for the future of Minneapolis. The neighborhood organizations around the University are the South East Como Improvement Association (SECIA), Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association (MHNA), Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association (PPERRIA) and the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood Revitalization Program. Made up of local residents, business owners and property owners, these groups are the most local governing seat of power in Minneapolis. Each has various committees to tackle issues that face a neighborhood: lighting, zoning, safety, housing, environment, etc. Regardless of your interests âÄî personal or academic âÄî most neighborhood organizations have a committee for your talents and motivations. Almost all of the committees and neighborhood organizations meet once a month on Tuesday evenings. Getting involved is simple enough; show up. You donâÄôt even need to say anything at first, just sit in on a meeting to start. Check out the NRP Web site for links to your neighborhood organizationâÄôs Web site to see the next meeting time of a committee you can help. This is the only way to make a difference in your neighborhood today and in your life tomorrow: get involved and be present. Screenwriter Woody Allen once said âÄú80 percent of success is just showing up.âÄù The Student Neighborhood Liaisons have some upcoming events that all students in the neighborhoods should know about and enjoy in order to help build a sense of community in the neighborhoods. Partnering with MHNA and SECIA, we are having our Feast of Neighbors for the second year in a row. Come out to meet your home-owning and renting neighbors over a free meal. Last yearâÄôs event was an awesome time that couldnâÄôt have happened without local student residents. The Feast for SE Como will be on Nov. 21 at Van Cleve Park, off of 15th and Rollins from 2:00 until 5:00 in the afternoon. The Feast for Dinkytown will be on Nov. 22 at the University Lutheran Church of Hope, off of 13th and Seventh from 4:00 until 7:00 in the afternoon. Get to know your neighbors and get involved in your neighborhoods. There are many opportunities to show local residents that students are a positive and powerful contribution to neighborhood life. Paul Buchanan is an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota. Please send comments to [email protected]