A Cedar-Riverside neighborhood group has expanded its presence in the community since restructuring almost a year ago.
Last December, the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood Revitalization Program became the community’s central neighborhood group after being inactive for several months. Since then, the group has hired staff and advocated for youth programming, improved representation and other resident needs.
Bosteya Jama joined the group as its executive director in February. Before Cedar-Riverside NRP re-established, the Somali community lacked representation in other community organizations based in Cedar-Riverside.
“There's always a challenge of how much you know the community that you're working with and how much can you give back,” Jama said.
Three members of the Somali Mothers of MN currently sit on the board.
Ariah Fine, a neighborhood support specialist at the city of Minneapolis who has worked with the group, said the board’s diversity helps the group focus on issues that are important to the community.
“It is always encouraging to me when the people serving on a neighborhood organization board are those that are sort of sometimes historically underrepresented, but then also those most directly impacted by issues facing the neighborhood,” Fine said.
The organization hired Dave Alderson in April as its co-executive director. Alderson had worked with the NRP group for three years before it restructured.
Prior to restructuring, the Cedar-Riverside NRP and the now-closed West Bank Community Coalition served the neighborhood. Having two neighborhood organizations led to competition for city funds and confusion among residents, Alderson said.
Jama and Alderson have focused on strengthening relationships with other neighborhood stakeholders, including the Cedar-Riverside Opportunity Center and the Brian Coyle Center.
“I think the relationship [with the Brian Coyle Center] is as good as it’s ever been if not better due to outreach from them to us and from us to them,” Alderson said.
Cedar-Riverside NRP recently collaborated with the Brian Coyle Center and Somali Mothers of MN to hold weekly programing for Somali children with autism. Other projects have included educational events about opioid use and addiction and work to re-establish weekly meetings with youth in the community.
The group has also worked to represent Cedar-Riverside residents as Minneapolis City Council members work on plans for the proposed Africa Village Public Market Project in the neighborhood. Alderson said he believes the group has been largely ignored by the city but will continue to advocate for residents.
“We’re not saying we’re in favor of the mall. We’re not saying we’re not in favor of the mall. We’re saying we’re in favor of a respectful process where the citizens and other community members of Cedar-Riverside are given a seat at the table,” he said.
The group will focus its future efforts on applying for grants to supplement its program funding from the city.