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Friday September 25th 2020

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Phillips Community Center Update “No, I’ll take the stairs!” … Carl Peterson

by Robert Albee, Ventura Village

It’s finally done! Last week we sent to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for most of the organizations who want to work together with the Park Board in the reopening and ongoing operations of the Phillips Community Center. It’s located at 11th Avenue and 24th Street in Ventura Village of the Phillips Community. In addition to prospective tenants, others who wish to have an ongoing presence in the building also have signed the agreement.

Those seeking to be tenants and are signatories to this MOU are the Waite House/Pillsbury United Communities, Freeport West, Native American Community Clinic, Running Wolf Fitness Center, A Partnership Of Diabetics (A-POD), Ventura Village (Neighborhood), Guri Nabad, a No Child Left Behind After-School Program and Minneapolis Swims. Representatives from the other three Phillips Communities are also signatories to the MOU and include East Phillips Improvement Coalition, Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association and Phillips West Neighborhood Organization. Also participating as “non-tenants”, but strongly interested parties include Sergio Martinez from Messiah Lutheran Church, Hope Academy, Phillips Neighborhood Free Clinic and Access Chiropractic Clinic.

Millions of dollars have been invested in rebuilding the physical environment of the Phillips Community and now it’s time to address those issues that keep cultures down and keep them separated. Waite House continues a long history of “Settlement House” activities ideally suitable to the wide-ranging cultures embodied in our immigrant communities and others residents as well who are moving toward family stability through being mentored and through “hand-up” rather than “hand-out” strategies. The Phillips Community Center, as a facility, can be a site to specifically promote multi-cultural programs—from elders to youth—designed to assist residents in re-weaving the social fabric of our Phillips Community.

Toward these ends, clinics are joining together with other partners to create a Community Wellness Center where healthy activities and healthy eating become major strategies in addressing the chronic diseases that are reaching epidemic proportions in Phillips. It is difficult to imagine a culturally-healthy Phillips Community unless careful attention is focused on those steps that we as residents can play in our own wellness.

All of the planning and meeting continues, that has gone into building an effective collaborative that can creatively utilize the available space in the PCC facility. There is no definite word on when the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and their staff members will make a final decision on the re-use of the Phillips Community Center. Already funding opportunities have fallen by the wayside because “site-control” is often a prerequisite to receiving funding. It is expected that removal of mold and vermin might take additional time and nobody is saying when final decisions will be made.

Just recently a report was issued that suggests that those of us living in neighborhoods such as Phillips will probably not live as long as those people in the outer ring Minneapolis neighborhoods and suburbs of the Twin Cities. There was quite a flurry of discussion on the Minneapolis Issues Forum regarding that study’s findings. So as I went about living my life with that big black cloud of a study hanging over our Phillips Community heads, I was absolutely delighted to see Carl Peterson at our monthly Ventura Village general membership meeting.

“Taking the stairs” to wellness

A bit more stooped of shoulder, Carl came in escorted by Thor Adams, his neighbor. The rather white dapper goatee that Carl is now sporting contrasts nicely with his ruddy Swedish complexion. But it’s his warmth and gentle smile that is so engaging: “Hello Mr. Albee! I see you’re really busy with the Pool and Gym!” After we talked a bit about that never-ending work, I watched as he began to exit the building. Thor asked Carl if he wanted to use the elevator. Carl was puzzled. He’d been in this downstairs meeting space at the Trinity First Lutheran Church many times, but had no idea that there was an elevator. “No, he smiled, I’ll take the stairs!” Away he went slowly by himself while Thor was talking… Carl will be 99 years old soon and reminds me of why I have dedicated my remaining years to helping make wellness programs a center of our Phillips Community. May there be many more Carl’s in Phillips for years to come!

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