St. Louis Park

Advancing Racial Equity

St. Louis Park is committed to being a leader in racial equity and inclusion. As one of the city’s strategic priorities, the City seeks to ensure all practices, programs, policies, and services of the city are fair, inclusive, and equitable. This priority is a product of Vision 3.0, the City’s community-wide engagement process that resulted in the
development of the City’s five Strategic Priorities that guided the goals and policies in its 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

Over the past several years, the City has taken steps to advance racial equity—working from the inside-out. This framework represents the City’s belief that in order to affect
change in the broader community, it must first take action internally.

<div class='lb-heading'>Advancing Racial Equity Throughout the Community</div><div class='lb-text'>The City of St. Louis Park is committed to being a leader in racial equity and inclusion. It strives to equitably serve all people who live, work, and play in the City.</div> <div class='lb-heading'>Vision 3.0 Community Engagement Events</div><div class='lb-text'>Throughout Vision 3.0, the City employed a variety of engagement methods in order to increase participation, specifically from historically underrepresented populations. This image shows a woman hosting community questions to engage residents around their wishes for the future of St. Louis Park.</div><div class='lb-link'><a href='https://www.hennepin.us/-/media/hennepinus/your-government/projects-initiatives/active-living/al-st-louis-park-presentation.pdf?la=en&hash=1B85EEFE4F28649610A8084761C9468093A582EC' target='_blank'>St. Louis Park Vision 3.0 Presentation</a></div> <div class='lb-heading'>Community Fishing Event</div><div class='lb-text'>The City helps coordinate community activities like fishing and basketball to bring residents together and foster relationship building.</div> <div class='lb-heading'>Basketball in the Park with the Police</div><div class='lb-text'>In St. Louis Park, the local police department hosts weekly basketball games in Anisworth Park. This event serves as an opportunity to bring together community members and help build relationships with the local police.</div> <div class='lb-heading'>Community Mural Engagement Event</div><div class='lb-text'>The HistoricWalker Lake Placemaking Committee and GoodSpace Murals are creating a 1,500 sq. ft. mural to bring the community together and tell the collective story of the past, present, and future of the HistoricWalker Lake district. </div><div class='lb-link'><a href='https://www.slpfota.org/walkerlake' target='_blank'>Historic WalkerLake</a></div> <div class='lb-heading'>Mural Engagement Event</div><div class='lb-text'>The mural will be installed in Spring 2020 on a building that faces Hwy. 7 and the future Southwest light-rail line. On October 22nd, 2019, the project artists held a community engagement event at a local, student-run coffee shop to gather ideas from residents. In this photo, GoodSpace Murals’ artistic director, Greta McLain, talks with St. Louis Park youth about the design of the mural. </div><div class='lb-link'><a href='https://www.slpfota.org/walkerlake' target='_blank'>Historic WalkerLake</a></div> <div class='lb-heading'>Mural Engagement Event (2)</div><div class='lb-text'>Attendees had the opportunity to answer questions such as “What makes this neighborhood/district special?”, “Who are we and who will we become?”, and “If you were to change or shift something, how would you change/improve this neighborhood/district?”</div><div class='lb-link'><a href='https://www.slpfota.org/walkerlake' target='_blank'>Historic WalkerLake</a></div> <div class='lb-heading'>Mexico City Café Parklet</div><div class='lb-text'>In Summer 2019, the City installed its first parklet in front of Mexico City Café. The parklet is a pilot project used to gauge the community’s interest in projects that enhance pedestrian space. In addition to adding public seating and green space to the area, the parklet also improved walking conditions in the Historic WalkerLake district. </div> <div class='lb-heading'>St. Louis Park Neighborhoods</div><div class='lb-text'>This map shows the 35 neighborhoods located within St. Louis Park. Many neighborhoods have organized neighborhood associations that contribute to the overall quality of life in St. Louis Park by building investment and pride, increasing feelings of safety and security, connecting neighborhoods with each other and with the City, and creating and maintaining a sense of community.</div><div class='lb-link'><a href='http://stlouispark.maps.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=96021490fb8b42a0a2a6cfd9e19c8ef8' target='_blank'>St. Louis Park Interactive Map</a></div> <div class='lb-heading'>Voluntary Demographics Cards</div><div class='lb-text'>Throughout the City’s engagement process, Vision 3.0, it distributed voluntary demographics cards to collect information on the age, gender, and race of respondents. This allowed the City to identify who it was and was not reaching and adjust its strategy accordingly.</div><div class='lb-link'><a href='https://www.hennepin.us/-/media/hennepinus/your-government/projects-initiatives/active-living/al-st-louis-park-presentation.pdf?la=en&hash=1B85EEFE4F28649610A8084761C9468093A582EC' target='_blank'>St. Louis Park Vision 3.0 Presentation </a></div>
Click image to open image gallery.

From the beginning, the City began conducting professional development for its staff on principles of racial equity and inclusion. In coordination with its internal initiatives, the City has worked in the community to build relationships and develop trust. As a result, it has taken significant strides toward greater intercultural competency and has set a strong foundation for breaking down barriers and dismantling racial inequities within the City’s systems.

What may help other communities?

Community Engagement: Seeking Out the Underrepresented

The objective of Vision 3.0 was to implement an inclusive engagement strategy and produce a vision for the future of the City representative of all community members. Approximately 70 residents were trained to facilitate neighbor meetings at their homes and places around the community. Throughout this process, the City distributed voluntary demographics cards to collect information on the age, gender, and race of respondents. This allowed the City to identify the people it was not reaching and adjust its engagement strategies accordingly. By the end of the visioning process, the City had
received input from nearly 1,500 people and collected over 4,600 comments.

Start Internally: Education and Professional Development

In 2016, the first cohort of City staff and council members participated in a one-year program facilitated by the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) and the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) Center for Social Inclusion (CSI). This training introduces the roles, responsibilities, and opportunities for government to advance racial equity. Attendees learned about equity and inclusion, then considered the impact of policies and practices on racial equity.

The City has developed year-round equity and inclusion professional development opportunities. This programming supports an understanding for staff that discomfort is common and usually an essential part of creating change within an organization and within a community.

Staff Resources

The City also created a team to lead its racial equity work. In 2018, the City hired a full-time Racial Equity Manager, a Community Organizer, and two Outreach staff. This team has been the driving force behind the City’s racial equity initiatives. They created a racial equity framework for the City, developed organizational definitions of racial equity and inclusion, and implemented a five-year assessment plan to evaluate their work. The City believes that hiring staff to lead this work is essential to having a real impact on the community.

Build Relationships in the Community

The City’s approach to advancing racial equity prioritizes longterm relationship building with the goal of reconnecting the
community. The City’s police department, along with the Human Resources and Parks and Recreation departments, developed a Jobs in the Park program to connect youth of color to summer employment in the community. The City strives to build new connections with local businesses and residents, as well as maintain connection and cohesion among neighborhood associations.

Encourage Community Action

In 2019, the City included special funding for racial equity and inclusion projects in its Neighborhood Revitalization Grant
Program
. Neighborhood associations were encouraged to apply for additional grant funding up to $250 to incorporate a
racial equity and inclusion component into new or existing programs or events. This year, the City awarded Racial Equity
funds to ten local neighborhoods. These funds will be used to finance a range of projects including establishing a racial
equity book club, facilitating community discussions around topics of race, and developing targeted engagement
strategies. The City hopes this program will promote more equitable distribution of grant funds and support deeper
neighborhood connections throughout the community.

Measure Progress

The City’s racial equity work is guided by two primary resources: the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and the
Multicultural Organization Development (MCOD) model. These tools are used to assess the effectiveness of the City’s
current internal initiatives, develop targeted strategies, and evaluate progress toward achieving equity and inclusion goals.

The IDI is an individualized assessment of intercultural competence. It evaluates the ability to shift perspectives and adapt behavior to cultural differences and commonalities. In 2018, all City supervisors, managers, council members, and
leadership staff completed the IDI assessment. The purpose of this phase was to familiarize City leadership with this tool
so that they can provide guidance to their employees. In 2019, 125 City staff completed the IDI. Participants also had the
opportunity to review their results with a trained IDI facilitator and develop personal goals for advancing racial equity.

In 2018, all full- and part-time staff had the opportunity to participate in the MCOD evaluation. This model helps
organizations assess developmental issues, opportunities, and challenges to incorporating social justice and racial equity
into everyday practices. The City’s evaluation identified a need to diversify its workforce across a range of demographics,
not just race. In response, the City changed its hiring practices to create a workforce reflective of the community.

The City will continue to use IDI and MCOD to advance racial equity throughout the community. It plans to conduct these
assessments every other year to regularly assess its progress and determine areas for improvement.

Awards and Recognitions

Contact the City of St. Louis Park

Alicia Sojourner – Racial Equity Manager, (952) 924-2602; asojourner@stlouispark.org​
Darius Gray – Community Organizer, (952) 924-2184; dgray@stlouispark.org
Meg McMonigal – Principal Planner, (952) 924-2573; mmcmonigal@stlouispark.org
 

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