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New healing space, outreach efforts highlight community safety work in MN

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Tuesday, November 14, 2023   

A Minneapolis neighborhood celebrates the opening of a centralized location for community safety initiatives today. The nonprofit behind the effort also is beginning to dive into similar projects in rural Minnesota.

Nonviolent Peaceforce hopes to foster more collaboration with other safety-oriented groups through its Hub for Nonviolence and Healing in North Minneapolis.

Will Wallace, director of community peace-building, leads efforts in the area. He says the space will offer specific activities such as healing circles and women's protection teams. He stresses it also can serve as a place where informal, but still important, conversations take shape.

"Why don't we have, like, a coffee day where we can invite people to come to the building and have coffee and talk about some of the issues that they're seeing?" he said.

The hub is at the corner of Lowry and Penn Avenue, the same location where an Aldi grocery store recently closed, further eroding community resources in an area that's dealt with wealth disparities and youth violence. Meanwhile, Nonviolent Peaceforce is launching outreach work in some rural Minnesota settings to gauge community safety concerns.

Marna Anderson, Nonviolent Peaceforce USA director, says while the rural outreach is structured differently, it's an opportunity to compare what they're already learning in an urban setting and the new feedback from smaller cities.

"Asking people what are the tension points in their community? What are their concerns and what makes them feel safe? And how do we build out programming for that unique community?" she said.

She added that, depending on the need, it might not involve the creation of a community space such as the one in North Minneapolis, but that can't be ruled out. Nonviolent Peaceforce is working with partners in cities such as Brainard and Duluth to gather feedback surrounding safety.

While the Twin Cities metro area often receives heavy regional focus for violent-crime problems, recent state data show several of the counties with the highest violent crime rates are in Greater Minnesota.

Disclosure: Nonviolent Peaceforce contributes to our fund for reporting on Criminal Justice, Human Rights/Racial Justice, Peace, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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