The north side is the most troubled, most stigmatized quarter of Minneapolis. Over the past few months, activists and concerned folks from all parts of the city—troubled and not troubled—have convened two cookouts on vacant lots in the north side. Their intentions are not entirely defined, but I believe these people do mean well.
A local blogger has been to both, and has posted some reflections from the second cookout:
I've noticed that the Cook Out isn't just about a neighborhood, as it was originally meant to target, but about the name it has been given “heart of the city”. It's become about all of us who are the heart of the city. It's about viewing our City as a whole instead of a collection of small geographically defined neighborhoods or a half of the city we will never heal. There was a genuine feeling that we are all in this together and that we will get through this together if we stay the course. This is the feeling of community that is lacking in so many American cities.
This attitude shows exactly why government must stop funding community activists and community organizers. Minneapolis is considering significant changes in the mechanism through which neighborhood groups receive taxpayer support. I served on one of the committees convened to examine the issue. My conclusion, in Minneapolis terms: NRP must die.
The activists believe they’re thinking big, building coalitions, and being humble. In fact, they’re righteous, self-centered and exclusionary. They think that the few dozens of familiar faces at these events are the “heart of the city”. Nonsense.
They believe, “we are all in this together.” Who is we? Who anointed these folks as torch-bearers for the concerns of 380,000 Minneapolitans? I've been to so many meetings, and yet have never felt included.
My views are too “diverse”. I insist on personal responsibility and believe imposed solutions just delay reckoning. These notions do not fit with the community activist worldview. We are together, in the sense that I suffer while they debate which form of socialism should be imposed. But I am not one of them.
I listen to the organizers bash anyone not subscribed to their ideology, yet insist they’re committed to “openness and dialog.” Their sacred diversity is only superficial. They pride themselves on how many different packages in which the same gift comes wrapped.
Those who believe industry and ingenuity are the heart of any city are scorned and dismissed. And because few have the energy or desire to persist in challenging the prevailing wind, the organizers come to believe they do represent the multitudes. Every echo in the chamber is heard as another voice of support.
These oh-so-socially-conscious residents represent only themselves and their narrow ideals. They are invested in feeling togetherness much more than producing any measurable economic success. Healing is an outcome, not an input. And with every solidarity meeting they wound me more.
Right intention is no guarantee of right results. Unseen facts confound. Unheard voices are the majority. Government must not fund the blind who pretend to speak for the silent. If these activists are in the heart of the city, our blood is poisoned. I call for a purge.