Art is a universal medium, and everyone is an artist in some way. It can move people through emotions, especially those who feel voiceless. Throughout our work we use art and culture to bring people’s experience into policy and system challenges, to bring people who feel isolated into the center, to prepare, to communicate and to celebrate.
At Hope people build connections and learn about systems that impact their lives. When you understand what the rules are, you can use your imagination to change them. Our work has elements of community organizing, popular education, and asset-based approaches. We work with people who are and who are becoming community leaders. We trust that people can make a difference about what is wrong in their communities.
Sustainable Progress through Engaging Active Citizens
SPEAC is an intensive eight-month/bimonthly leadership, organizing and action training program with a racial justice and healing justice frameworks. Participants develop their personal, connective and collective power. There is a network of over 150 diverse adult graduates; more than two-thirds are people of color. The tenth cohort started in 2016. SPEAC graduates are a recognized network of leaders throughout the Twin Cities and even beyond. They are active at Hope and in other neighborhoods in system change and other leadership roles.
Parks and Power
Some years ago Hope began to respond to community members about a dangerous, under-resourced Peavey Park two blocks from Hope. The first two cohorts of SPEAC did research about parks of similar size across Minneapolis. They wrote a report to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board called “The Broken Promise” about the disparities they uncovered between Peavey Park and others in more affluent areas. Hope is now leading a city-wide campaign with allies in several other Minneapolis parks focused on bringing a racial equity analysis to how park resources are allocated. In this work, community members are involved with policy that is directly related to their lives. They already have a social knowledge about what doesn’t work. When they learn about the systems in their city, they show up with confidence to be part of major public issues that impact the community.
Arts and Culture
For more than 10 years Hope’s mural program has worked with emerging community artists and youth. The murals are not just images haphazardly thrown together, but instead are stories told by those involved that emerge from weeks of working together. For example, we created a mural called “We Count” around the time of the 2010 Census, depicting the faces of real people living in the community. Another mural called “Youth Farm” shows the work to create connections between the urban community and the land. People are experts in their own lives, and art can connect to what is in their hearts and minds about their communities.