On a beautiful hot Sunday afternoon, the streets of Northeast Minneapolis opened themselves up to the neighborhood and provided a wonderful opportunity to see and explore who is out and about in the community.
The strip of Central Ave I walked wasn’t as jam-packed as one might have expected for such a lovely day, but that only made parking and navigating the streets even easier.
The first stand that caught my attention as I came down the street wasn’t a stand at all, but two rows of folding chairs set up facing each other.
“Sidewalk talk, you talk we listen” was what their sign read.
This was one of the most unique groups I found on my walk of the open NE streets. Sidewalk talk was started by two San Francisco therapists who wanted to help.
Their goal is to help communities by nurturing human connection through heart-centered listening in public spaces.
How that translates into action is pretty simple. They set up a few chairs, put out a sign, and are ready to listen to anyone about anything.
Need to talk about what’s stressing you? Want to tell someone about your life’s adventures? Feel like just having a chat? Sidewalk talks team of therapists, coaches and counselors are there to lend an ear.
Not too far from the friendly folk of Sidewalk talk was the Minneapolis native and self-described indie synth-pop artist Corzine.
Just hidden from the intense sun and belting out beautiful covers next to sunflowers and CD’s, Corzine filled her space with beautiful music.
As one little boy stopped to enjoy the music he said, “You’re better than the Beatles!” High praise for an up-and-coming artist working it out in the heat.
This event also brought out many political activists who were engaging with the community, hoping to open minds and spread ideas.
I stopped to chat with the members of the Anti-War Committee, who were working on gaining signatures for a petition to encourage the Minnesota Board of Investments to divest money in Elbit Systems.
Elbit Systems, I learned, is an organization that is the 27th largest arms dealer in the world and makes a great deal of money in boarder militarization in Israel and the U.S.-Mexico border.
I also chatted with a couple of local musicians who were working on their petition to stop the sale of new fur in Minnesota.
The open streets event provided them a great opportunity to talk with members of the community about the issues that were important to them.
It wasn’t just the politically-minded who were out, of course.
The North East Investment Cooperative (NEIC) had a stand set up in front of their first major investment — 2504 and 2506 Central Ave., which was is now home to Aki’s BreadHaus and Fair State Brewing Cooperative.
NEIC’s mission, in a nutshell, is to leverage member investments to make long-term, stabilizing and transformative investments in Northeast Minneapolis.
What does that mean exactly? That means that business/members of the coop can use their collective power to acquire older buildings, rehab and renovate them for new local business, which is exactly what they did in the space that now is home to Fair State Brewing and Aki’s BreadHaus.
Knockout Bodies was also out on the street showing off their skills and answering questions. They are the Twin Cities longest running pole dance studio, and since 2010 have been providing the area with an alternative to the traditional gym.
If you have been wanting to try something challenging and different you don’t have to look much further than Knockout Bodies’ classes in pole dance and areal arts.
Making my way down the street, I stopped to haunt my favorite booth on the block, our very own Music In Minnesota!
Ready to entertain all the passers-by with a little bit of everything, the MIM booth featured a live painting from Tice Delsol.
Delsol was working on a Prince piece for the event. If you haven’t watched someone create a piece of art right in front of your eyes, from scratch, it is quite something to see.
While I was present, the MIM booth also featured a performance from Minneapolis trio Major Days.
This three-piece combines their respective styles and interests into a blend of hip-hop that is their own.
Although the streets weren’t packed, Major Days managed to get every passerby to stop and listen to their hypnotic beats for a moment.
I found the whole Open Streets event to be a great way to interact with the community and businesses that I wouldn’t have known existed otherwise.
If you are looking for a fun event that lets you get out and experience your community in a unique way, I encourage you to check out the next Open Streets event near you.
You never know who you might find.