- is an organization formed in 2009 "
To support, preserve, create and enhance a vibrant, competitive and a thriving downtown that attracts and retains businesses, employees, residents and visitors".
DID is a non-profit entity formed by the Minneapolis Downtown Council. Its a great group of people that work hard to keep the streets clean and keep the attitude positive in downtown Minneapolis.
These people are seriously trying to make change in Minneapolis, but they face adversity from the public, and from our own Mayor's office as well. Its not an easy job and I'll take my hat off (and I don't do that often) to any of them for the BS that they have to endure in order to do their jobs. Support your Downtown Council, get active in the community and make a difference.
Mark Stenglien (left), LA. Nik, Kris Arneson, Lisa Goodman, & Bryan Schafer
And they did a recent survey...
Minneapolis DID surveyed people about their feelings for Downtown Minneapolis. This data below is
Not yet Released;
I just happen to have it. Downtown cleanliness and downtown safety are the two main topics. I want to point out that the survey, if taken on the streets of Minneapolis, is largely composed of white, middle class, midwestern, conservative people. Its possible they are scared of the city even if they work in it. They could possibly be scared of Bloomington to! But these are the people walking our streets. See below.
Honestly about half the people feel unsafe in downtown Minneapolis. It's about normal for any city with diversity; it will always be there. Its really not that unsafe, but the problems we do have are very tough problems to fix. They are not problems that the government can just take care of. They're our problems to.
are the government. The city can not just step in and fix these things. They are really more in the realm of social responsibility problems. Its really up to the people that live in the community and work in the community stepping up to help people like Lisa Goodman (our downtown Ward Representative), to make the city better. As a passionate voice for downtown Minneapolis, which is seeking to grow into a travel destination, I will speak first to encourage people to step up rather than step aside and complain.
Let's use a social responsibility example.
is on 9th street across from Hell's Kitchen. Its a very nice, well-known and very profitable liquor store in the Twin Cities. This store does not sell any single serving beer, or liquor offerings. They may have cigars in the store but I don't think they even sell cigarettes. They definitely won't sell to an intoxicated person. Its a higher class business helping out by managing their own clients, their section of the street, and their social responsibility. Fast forward up the block to Team Liquor Wine & Spirits on 7th street. They serve single serve beer, single serve vodka and liquor. I've seen homeless people walk in whom had fully peed themselves, drunk and they get served. The block they live on has plastic alcohol bottle and related litter on it in every direction. The DID ambassadors can't pick it up fast enough. That's not social or community responsibility. This is the equivalent of a factory dumping pollutants into our gutters.
Im willing to bet half of the people in these surveys are complaining about people on the street. I would encourage you to DO SOMETHING about it.
You know what? These are your streets! Don't walk by with blinders on. Don't be passive. Don't bitch when you get home that downtown is "scary". Call the police department. Call the Mayor's office and start getting involved on your streets. Its all of ours, this city, and three people can't solve all of the problems.
Every single day there are problems on the street, but there can't be a cop on every corner all day, every day. Its just not going to happen. It's up to the people that live in the community to make the city better.
If I were the Mayor
, I would petition heavily to earmark more police power to ground level street interactions during specific parts of the day. I really believe Minneapolis needs this.
these photographs are secured data from cameras on Nicollet Mall, that I have. Do you see a problem here? What's the first thing you notice?? Note the dates. Note the times of day... This is a problem! You can't just go home and bitch about this. Get involved. Call the police and call your commissioners and tell them what you're seeing.
What about PanHandlers? Do you feel safe or are you being aggressively attacked?
Remember the City Government is your City Government. Not all of them are narcissists; (maybe one or two..) There are a few people that are working very hard, publicly, to make serious change downtown for the people. But the people of the city need to step it up and help the change become reality. You know there are 30,000 residents in downtown Minneapolis and more than 160,000 workers. Actually, there are nearly 30,000 Target employees alone whom fill the skyway, take over side-walks and often single-handidly offer a representative face for downtown Minneapolis. I watch them turn a blind eye everyday to the problems on Nicollet Mall. And sure, we also have millions of dollars of bike paths and green initiatives, but no one will care if they can't walk down the street without feeling like they're on high alert or hoping to blindly just bypass something that might not be right.
This city thrives on corporate tourism.
runs the Convention Board and drives tens of thousands of people into this city every year. The Hyatt, the Millenium Hotel, The Hilton, The W and every other hotel and restaurant in downtown stays in business because of conventions. If we can't keep a couple streets like Nicollet Mall safe and clean.. we will lose corporate tourism. And our problem of restaurants and clubs opening and closing will be a never-ending story more than it is now.
Here's another thing.. Landlords. Building owners. There are greedy landlords all over Hennepin Ave and other areas of town. Businesses are being charged $15-25 / square foot for a tenant to move in. Some of these spaces are huge! Nobody is going to rent them and no one can afford to move in. Buildings like Chevy's, Block E and others have been empty for years.. and will likely continue to be. We will continue to foster an environment that progressively will attract more crime, more problems, and more darkness. In fact, read this
from this past fall. Minneapolis is one of the highest penalty cities in the U.S. for these buildings sitting vacant, yet they still sit..
If I were the Mayor
, I would raise these fines even higher. Nicollet Mall is experiencing crime (in the simplest explanation) because Hennepin ave is clogged up with bars and restaurants and night life only. People simply aren't walking on it during the day, so those looking to rob and harm others move to where the people are. I've seen it a dozen times in cities I've lived in. Fill these spaces with smaller businesses. Offer subsidies as landlords to put faces on the streets, pay down your tax burdon to society and be recognized by livening Minneapolis.
"There were 4,282 housing building permits in the Twin Cities, covering 9,042 units, in 2012 – about double the 2011 numbers, according to the Excelsior-based Keystone Report."
(Read this whole story from Finance & Commerce
) And though there is
a skyline of construction and cranes and a $100,000 million Opus project in the heart of the city.. our problems are not resolving. The Hotel Ivy is a possible example of why 35 floors of $3500 / month living spaces may likely have problems. Let's focus on the streets first so people want to move into these spaces. Our current trends do not support the mind-set.
Drugs are also a massive problem. I have met people buying drugs right out of HCMC! This has to stop!
Due to my looks.. I get offered drugs of all kinds every week in Minneapolis and at very high-end venues - NOT just the Nicollet & 6th street bus stop mentioned in the image below. And you'd be surprised if I mentioned from who..
Minneapolis was recently mentioned in Travel & Leisure magazine as one of the
Read the article; its' primarily focused on food and the new offerings on Hennepin ave. There's a real problem with this. The DID statistics show us that an upward trend of people are leaving downtown due to cleanliness and safety concerns. We also have Neiman Marcus leaving this month and there's talk of Macy's as well. These are more massive voids in our city, at least for now.
We need Action. We need social responsibility. We need to know our neighbors and their kids. We need a society of people in Minneapolis that everyone thinks they are, and is proud of. "MN NICE" You've heard that one? Are you aware that every person that visits Minnesota from someplace else goes home and reports back about how that term actually means people are passive aggressive and turn blind eyes, or stab you in the back? Its true! If you want to see a depiction of the origin of 'MN Nice" from a painting representing the Dakota conflict trials of 1862, go to the
You'll find yourself contemplating this depiction in modern day people all around you.
Here's what we don't need... We don't need - smoke & mirrors politics. We don't need one of the lowest crime rates in the nation. All that means is were not arresting people and if we are, they are out within hours. The police on the streets will confirm that - I talk with them every night. We need action on the streets and we need a police city.
With all of the tax payers money that goes to ill-willed programs, I am calling this city out on regular beat cops. The cops want it, the people want it.. where is it?
We need 5 or more regular beat cops on Nicollet Mall alone, every night between 5:30 and 11pm. People need to know their names and recognize them daily. They can't be in cars or riding on horses. They need to be walking the streets to the point, that criminals, loiterers, panhandlers and mis-directed youth also know who they are. It will deter crime and engage the public with city initiatives. Young kids won't be flashing 9mm handguns by Marshall's if they know the cops that work that block.
Let's face it, Old Man Winter cleaned the streets but he'll be gone before you know it and warmer weather brings more crime.
Minneapolis is our city
. We need to own it and make a statement before it gets worse. We can not cover up the real issues affecting people coming downtown. None of the other initiatives matter if people don't feel safe because they simply will not come. Your award winning restaurants will close, your bike lanes will go unused, your issues will deepen and all behind closed doors where you likely won't see them. OTHER CITIES DO NOT STAND FOR THIS - WE'RE ONLY 120 BLOCKS DEEP.
DID's summary brings it all together. They work hard, they watch the streets, they see things you don't want to know about. They've done their job and they've surveyed you. They've informed you.They simply can't do anymore. Its up to the people to drive these directives and call the police, call the Mayor's office and make change. We're too focused on being clean and happy, rather than facing reality. Get out there and make a difference and consider this your own, larger, neighborhood watch program. This is our town!
~L.A.Nk "The Mayor of Minneapolis After Dark"
You can buy my book here.