OUR TOWN 2012: St Louis Park Friends of the Arts
St. Louis Park Friends of the Arts (FotA) is a non-profit community arts organization dedicated
to supporting, promoting, and enhancing the arts in St. Louis Park. FotA connects people and
organizations around the arts, shares arts-related information and resources, and coordinates
community arts programs.
It's all about Building Community through the Arts.
FotA has created a truly unique organization that is the ultimate COMMUNITY arts group.
Twin Cities Daily Planet neighborhood pages
Residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul need convenient and timely sources of information about what is happening in their neighborhoods. By publishing hundreds of neighborhood news stories every year, as well as republishing many more stories from our media partners in the neighborhood, community and ethnic press, we help to meet that need. But Twin Cities residents need more than just information - they also need tools that enable them to deliberate, organize and build stronger connections to their neighborhoods and to each other.
Twin Cities Daily Planet's 98 neighborhood pages do more than just provide news and information - we also provide interactive tools that make that information more useful. Using software that associates many different kinds of content - articles, blog posts, event listings, profiles of registered users with geographically defined areas, we are able to provide neighborhood residents with a rich source of information about neighborhood events, issues and resources.
Cedar Outdoors free summer patio shows are a means of increasing access to and building participation in the arts in Cedar Riverside. Offering free performances eliminates the financial constraints placed on low-income resident populations and also allows us to engage new audiences. In this way, it also boosts the visibility of The Cedar's mission and physical space. Involving the local immigrant and refugee populations with free programming will facilitate more intercultural appreciation and encourage more people to feel that the venue is their space, and not just that of outsiders who come to the area solely for a single performance. We eventually hope to address the lack of public space in Cedar Riverside for the East African community to gather by opening up the patio to be public park and selling coffee, tea, and snacks. The outdoor series is the first of many steps in building a sense of community in the neighborhood by hosting highly-visible events open and accessible to area residents and increase access to the arts with free programming.
Refugee Community Gardens
On the East side of St. Paul, vegetables and communities are flourishing at two new community gardens started by refugee families and volunteers from the Minnesota Council of Churches. The “Neighbor Garden”, located at the Birmingham Woods apartments, is gardened by residents from Ethiopia, Iraq, Somalia, Liberia, Burma and the US. The nearly Flandrau Garden is open to all neighborhood residents, and is gardened by Ethiopian, Eritrean, Iraqi, Nepalese, and Karen refugee families, as well as several Hmong-American neighbors.
These gardens have given neighbors - many of whom come from different countries and speak different languages - a way to get to know each other as they work for a common goal. In addition, the community gardens provide a space for refugee families to grow foods from their home countries, which can be difficult to find in the US. Many of the families have limited household budgets, and the gardens help them save money on food, as well as improving their access to fresh, healthy produce.
Sharing the Arts in Northern MN
Because of our rural location, getting people to attend live performing arts events from across our state (and from surrounding states) can be challenging. Newcomers might be reluctant to attend because they feel that great touring acts do not venture out of the metro areas. Some may feel we might not have a venue capable of accommodating prolific artists and events. Others may believe that we are too small to host big time talent. But one thing remains clear—once we get someone through the door once, we almost always see them again...and again.