BUILDING COMMUNITY FOR ALL
The history of our neighborhood is very short. Fewer than 300 people lived in the Mill District in 1999, when the first residential building opened. Today we have close to 5000 residents and a reputation as an affluent community, but here’s a shocking fact: while Downtown has some of the highest home values in the Upper Midwest and a median income of $78,000, 25% of our neighbors live below the poverty line!
YOUR DONATION WILL HELP MAKE US “STRONGER TOGETHER”
It seemed clear to the founders of our charity that this was a neighborhood still searching for an identity & a sense of community. When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, we decided to begin a Facebook page called Be That Neighbor. The purpose of the page was to post real time information about volunteering and helping our neighbors. As it quickly gained in popularity, we realized that Be That Neighbor better described the work we had been doing as Friends of the Mill District and we began the process of changing the name of our charity to Be That Neighbor.
We made the easy decision that our “identity” must include everyone. We are stronger together when people of all races, religions and income levels are included in community events and programs. Something truly inspiring is happening as a result of our programs: highly unlikely friendships are becoming the norm, as large numbers of neighbors break out of their social bubbles and engage with the broader community. To that end, each & every one of our programs is free and open to everyone interested. We are indeed “Stronger Together”.
The Mill City Singers – Our community choir, directed by JD Steele, and accompanied by his brother Fred, began with a group of people living in supportive housing. After opening it up to all residents we now have 274 people on our roster in our fourth season. We used to practice on Saturday afternoons at the Guthrie Theater and sing at events throughout the city including singing 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' at Twins games, performing at the MacPhail Music Matters Luncheon, the Loring Park Music Fest, the Capri Theater, at the Orpheum, Orchestra Hall, at the Guthrie Theater before a production of A Christmas Carol, and caroling throughout the neighborhood. As the pandemic has complicated even the simplest acts, it has complicated our singing together. We decided immediately that we would continue to try new ideas to keep us singing and keep us together. Our Zoom rehearsals have continued to morph and become better every time we meet. We have been fortunate enough to find a parking ramp in the Mill District that gave us permission to rehearse on the roof . . .and we do.
We are determined to be flexible and fluid throughout the pandemic. Creativity and patience are necessary to our work, and we persevere!
Community Partners: MacPhail Center for Music, The Steeles, Guthrie Theater, American Academy of Neurology, Mill City Museum, Abiitan, D'Amico, Smith and Porter, Keefer Court, Afro Deli, Trader Joe's, Umbra, Bacon Social House, Wasabi Fusion, Crooked Pint, Conexion at Open Book and Pog Mahones.
About Be That Neighbor
In 2015 a group of friends began a conversation about the Mill District and the broader community in Downtown Minneapolis. We shared a vision for our neighborhood that includes every single resident, including the disadvantaged and others who sometimes feel invisible, and decided to start a 501©3 to do the work that needs to be done. In January of 2016, we filed papers with the IRS and began our work. Our mission is to “ ... build community by connecting, convening, and supporting neighbors. We strive to make the invisible visible by the programs we create. All the people in our neighborhood matter and we know we are stronger together."