Mayor Hodges: ‘When we come together, there is no stopping us’
Mayor’s State of the City speech elaborates on the ‘deep truths of Minneapolis’
 
May 17, 2016 (MINNEAPOLIS) — “Minneapolis, it is profoundly true that we are a great, wonderful city. It is also profoundly true that we are city with many challenges, especially regarding race,” said Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges today in her annual State of the City address, entitled “The Deep Truths of Minneapolis.” Mayor Hodges spoke to a crowd of about 200 at the MacPhail Center for Music. She was joined on stage by more than 50 leaders from business, advocacy, neighborhoods, community development, labor, nonprofits, education, and public service.
 
Video of State of the City || Text of State of the City
 
Mayor Hodges began by citing Nobel Laureate and physicist Niels Bohr, who famously said, “The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth,” and, “It is the hallmark of any deep truth that its negation is also a deep truth.”
 
Mayor Hodges built on those quotations to frame two sets of deep truths about Minneapolis. The first set is that “Minneapolis is a remarkable and wonderful city,” and that “Minneapolis is a city of deep challenges, particularly regarding race.” The second set is that “We come together for the common good,” and “We strain to come together as people and we are divided.”
 
From those deep truths, the Mayor posited that, “our ability to come together is our greatest strength, that it is the source of the best things about our community, and that when we do come together as One Minneapolis, there is no stopping us.”
 
The theme of coming together despite differences to transform our city into One Minneapolis wove itself through the Mayor Hodges’s speech. The topics that she addressed to illustrate that point were safety, growth, youth, sustainability, and the arts.
 
Mayor Hodges praised Minneapolis’ arts scene as “the best anywhere — I mean anywhere.” She added, “It is a testament to who and what Minneapolis is that one of the most elemental ways human beings have of coming together as people is something in which we excel so much. We sometimes do strain to come together — but when we do it, we do it beautifully.”
 
Mayor Hodges spoke directly to transgender Minneapolitans and to Muslim Minneapolitans, assuring them that attacks on them are “not Minneapolis values” and that their city stands with them.
 
Mayor Hodges also spoke directly to white people: “The history of race would have us white folks believe that the issue we face as a city…are issues of and about people of color. The history of race often leaves us white people thinking that this isn’t about us.” But, she said, when white people are able to recognize that “race and racism is a system that we are part of, like it or not,” “the fullness of our own humanity” and “our neighbor’s humanity” become pathways to “achieve our full success. The end point of that is One Minneapolis, and we are in that picture.”
 
She concluded her speech with reference to a line from the poet Elizabeth Alexander: “are we not of interest to each other?” Our interest in each other, she submitted, is the ground on which we come together for the common good through the division and strain.
 
“I submit that in this amazing city of great challenges, we have everything and we are everyone that we need to come together through the strain of doing so. We have everything and we are everyone we need to hold our profound truths in deeply creative tension. We have everything and we are everyone we need to undertake the work of transformation,” she said.
 
“That is our profound truth.”
 
Other Highlights
 
Safety
 
Mayor Hodges spoke of how the City is responding to the increase in gun violence in North Minneapolis, which she condemned, and how community is coming together despite differences to lift up peace and safety. She also spoke of the need for “transformation” in police–community relations, “especially in and for communities of color,” while adding that “it is also true that Minneapolis is leading the country on reforming and transforming policing and police–community relations.” She cited as examples officer-worn body cameras, an early-intervention system in the Police Department, the racial diversity of Community Service officers, various improvements in training, and Minneapolis’ participation the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice.
 
She concluded: “We can be proud that we as a people and a city are sticking with this difficult conversation around policing, community, and race: engaging with each other, challenging each other, challenging me, listening to one another carefully and respectfully. It is hard and it can be painful, but it is necessary and we will be a stronger city and a better people for it.”
 
Growth
 
Mayor Hodges addressed infrastructure, jobs, and business, hitting several highlights: that Minneapolis’ infrastructure is “the envy” of cities across the country, praised the recent unanimous adoption of the ordinance to fund sustainably the long-term capital needs of city streets and neighborhood parks, and called on the Legislature to act this year to pass a long-term road- and transit-funding package. She praised Minneapolis’ thriving business community for its civic-mindedness, and noted that “it is also true that it is still too difficult to do business here.”
 
She spoke of the progress that the Business Made Simple initiative that she launched two years ago has made, and announced that the City’s Innovation Team, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will start tackling how to increase business ownership in communities of color.
 
When speaking of jobs, Mayor Hodges highlighted efforts, such as TechHire, the Cedar–Riverside Opportunity Hub, and an effort to pass an ordinance for earned sick and safe time in Minneapolis as steps the City is taking to build on Minneapolis’ reputation as a top big-city job market.
 
Youth
 
Mayor Hodges said that “One of the best parts of being Mayor is that I get to meet and be inspired by the amazing youth of our city.” She spoke of inspirational young leaders Payton Bowyer and Isaiah Hudson, both young African American men who have overcome long odds to succeed. She called on those assembled to hire opportunity youth: “…when we have youth here who are ready to succeed but have not yet had the opportunities to do so, let us include them in our growth and prosperity. Or more accurately, we will not have growth and prosperity without them.”
 
She also spoke of the progress on the final recommendations of her Cradle to K Cabinet, including the upcoming launch of the “Talking Is Teaching” initiative to address the “Word Gap,” and the $1 million investment for large affordable housing units for very low-income families that the Mayor and the City Council made in the 2016 budget. 
 
Sustainability
 
Mayor Hodges stressed that it is true that Minneapolis is one of the North American cities most affected by climate change. It is also true that the City is coming together with advocates, community members, utilities, and many others to address it, including through the Clean Energy Partnership with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. The City’s work toward a Zero Waste Plan, which Mayor Hodges has championed, also continues: this includes the growing success of resident sign-ups for curbside organics recycling, for which 35 percent of Minneapolis households have now signed up.
 
Promise Zone
 
Mayor Hodges also related that almost everything she covered related to safety, growth, and youth is relevant to the federal designation of a wide swath of North Minneapolis as a Promise Zone. In the Promise Zone’s first full year of the 10-year designation, $3.8 million in federal funds have been delivered to Minneapolis, with $11 million more being tracked.
 
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Published May 17, 2016

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