In the Spotlight

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Living in the Jordan neighborhood
By Brandt Williams
Minnesota Public Radio
March 19, 2002

The Jordan neighborhood in north Minneapolis has seen its share of troubles. MPR reporter Brandt Williams, who lives in the neighborhood, shares his observations.

According to 2000 Census statistics, north Minneapolis has simultaneously experienced "white flight" and a "black boom" in the last 10 years. The white population decreased by about 40 percent, while the black population increased by 55 percent.

The Jordan neighborhood is one of several in north Minneapolis. It has about 9,000 residents.
• 49 percent are African-Americans
• 24 percent are Caucasians
• 17 percent are Asian-Americans
• 4 percent are Latinos

Many times when I tell people I live in north Minneapolis, they ask about crime and if I fear for my safety. I don't try to convince them that my neighborhood is paradise. Instead, I tell them the Jordan neighborhood is in the process of development. I tell them it has its share of problems, but that it also has a lot going for it. And I add, 'No, I don't fear for my safety.'

My wife and I bought a beautiful little bungalow here last January. We had looked in several different neighborhoods and found houses that were way overpriced. The house we found was a great price - a steal in today's market - but we weren't quite sure about the neighborhood.

The real estate agent was frank with us when she said the store on the corner near the house attracted a lot of foot traffic and noise. And as an urban affairs reporter, I was familiar with some of the challenges with crime in the area. But when the agent introduced us to some of the neighbors in the area, and told us that she and her husband were buying a house just up the street, we decided to buy the house.

We figured that if we were going to live in a developing neighborhood, we better have a good support network. And we do.

Besides the house, our neighbors are the best thing about living where we do. We have a core group of about 15 to 20 neighbors who are committed to making the neighborhood a better place to live. Whether it's picking up trash in the area, chasing away drug dealers on the corner, or - as we are doing this summer - planting a community garden, the neighbors are doing what they can.

Of course there's a lot that needs to change. Poverty and hopelessness appear to be the biggest contributors to the problems in the neighborhood. We are a small group of active neighbors. And it is sometimes overwhelming when one considers the forces working against our goals of creating a safe and prosperous neighborhood for all residents. Our hope is that whatever little things we do will inspire others to join us, or work on their own improvement projects.

More from MPR
  • Fighting the drug war - one block at a time main page

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  • City of Minneapolis - neighborhood map Where is the Jordan neighborhood? Look for a green area in the upper left of the map
  • City of Minneapolis - Census 2000 information More demographic information about Jordan