Defending Community

Defending Community: The Struggle for Alternative Redevelopment in Cedar-Riverside

Copyright Date: 1994
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Defending Community
    Book Description:

    Randy Stoecker's intimate biography of Cedar-Riverside, nationally known for a period as "the Haight-Ashbury of the Mid-West," contains important lessons about the conflicts between the needs of capitalism and the needs of community. While attending graduate school at the University of Minnesota, the author moved to Cedar-Riverside, a Minneapolis neighborhood known for its determination to enact values of peace, justice, wholeness, participation, and community in its truest sense. There he experienced first-hand the clashes between a radical community and state-backed urban developers.

    His narrative tells the story of a community that overcame the odds against its own survival. Slated for total demolition, the neighborhood was saved by a powerful grass-roots movement. Citizens stopped a state-capital coalition from entombing the community in concrete and went on to create one of the largest community controlled urban redevelopment projects in the country After more than twenty years of struggle, Cedar-Riverside continues to experience citizen-controlled urban redevelopment on its own terms, setting an example for other communities, urban planners, and policymakers.

    In the seriesConflicts in Urban and Regional Development, edited by John R. Logan and Todd Swanstrom.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0420-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-1)
  5. Map of Cedar-Riverside
    (pp. 2-2)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Capital, Community, and Cedar-Riverside: An Overview
    (pp. 3-26)

    There we were, maybe a hundred of us, in the street clutching our gold-painted plastic spoons-our “groundbreaking shovels”—on a warm summer day in 1986. We were celebrating yet another redevelopment project beginning in our neighborhood. That we were celebrating at all was momentous. Twenty years ago no one would have given odds that this neighborhood would even still be standing. But stand it did, and the redevelopment we were marking that day was vastly different from the plans of twenty years ago. More than just the plans were different, however. Tim Mungavan, one of the leading activists in the...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Capital Invades Cedar-Riverside
    (pp. 27-48)

    The urban redevelopment that mushroomed after World War II provides an extraordinary account of the destruction of urban communities, affordable housing, and community services. Blighted, poverty-stricken slums were targeted for grand schemes controlled by powerful central governments, institutions, and corporations. A flurry of concrete freeways, hospitals, corporate headquarters, and high-rise condominiums began replacing inner-city neighborhoods, which were politically—and literally—bulldozed. It seemed as if the neighborhood communities at risk from top-down, capital-conscious urban renewal stood little chance against the onslaught of urban renewal dollars.

    In the 1960s the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood was targeted for the same type of urban renewal...

  8. CHAPTER 3 A New Community Forms Against the New Town
    (pp. 49-72)

    By 1970, when the first community organization formed to oppose the New Town in Town, the national social movements that had sustained the new residents of Cedar-Riverside—the civil rights movement, student movement, and antiwar movement—had already peaked. As those movements waned, the people of Cedar-Riverside turned toward building an alternative community, one that would be insulated from the insidious influence of capitalism, bureaucracy, and conformity. What began to form in Cedar-Riverside in the late 1960s was a new community, founded on the counterculture that the new residents had adopted and the use-values orientation that this culture emphasized. A...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Building on Community: Organizing the Resistance
    (pp. 73-98)

    The neighborhood movement lost the first battle. But members now recognized that it was only the first battle. Their hopelessness and fatalism was replaced by outrage and the strength of a threatened community. The dedication ceremony uprising was not in vain. The residents had established a solid community base and felt a new sense of empowerment. They had not been able to stop Cedar Square West, but they had been able to create a dramatic disruption that turned the project’s dedication ceremony into chaos. On the other hand, residents were no longer certain that “ending up in prison or the...

  10. CHAPTER 5 The Growth Coalition Falters
    (pp. 99-124)

    Late 1974 signaled the beginning of the end for the New Town in Town, Financial backers started pulling out, and City Hall began to review the Urban Renewal Plan. During one of the CREDF fundraising dinners, neighborhood activist Steve Parliament learned of the growing skepticism of the Minneapolis corporate elite when a member of that elite remarked that the “financial community in Minneapolis felt that CRA was a house of cards” and an organization to stay away from. The political opportunity structure, which had been so well organized in CRA’s favor, was shifting.

    Through the second period the neighborhood movement’s...

  11. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 125-140)
  12. CHAPTER 6 Building the Foundation for Community-based Development
    (pp. 141-170)

    The struggle against the New Town in Town was over. A disorganized group of hippies believing everything was lost had become an organized group of activists believing anything was possible. The seemingly impenetrable growth coalition that was to level their neighborhood had been shattered, creating an urban redevelopment policy vacuum in the local political opportunity structure. Suddenly, how to plan urban redevelopment, what kind of urban redevelopment to plan, and where to plan it were open to question throughout perhaps all levels of the city bureaucracy, except for the Planning Department, which stuck tenaciously to top-down, capital-conscious planning models.


  13. CHAPTER 7 The Struggle Within
    (pp. 171-202)

    The neighborhood surged into redevelopment into the mid-1980s. Its membership in the governing regime intensified beyond connections to council members to include neighborhood activists hired to work with the MCDA. By December 1983, even under the burden of PAC funding cuts, plans had crystallized for other parcels acquired with the Section 8 project. The initial plans called for seven two-bedroom units, thirteen one-bedroom units, and two three-bedroom units, again designed by the residents. The project was another product of the CDC-Brighton Development Corporation partnership, with an estimated cost of $790,000. Financing for this stage was to come from limited-partner, or...

  14. CHAPTER 8 The Role of Community in Urban Insurgency
    (pp. 203-228)

    The people of Cedar-Riverside discovered their power even as they watched the housing west of Cedar Avenue bulldozed to make way for the first stage of the New Town. For it was not just the power of creating democratic, community-based redevelopment, or even of stopping the remaining stages of the top-down, capital-conscious New Town plan, that Cedar-Riverside exhibited. First and foremost it was the power of creating a community on which a strong defense could be built. And the movement that built and defended that community produced both a culture and a social structure that allowed Cedar-Riverside to expand its...

  15. CHAPTER 9 The Limits and the Potential of Community Control of Urban Redevelopment
    (pp. 229-256)

    Both inside and outside the neighborhood there are those who argue that Cedar-Riverside was not all that successful in providing a positive exception to the miserable record of urban renewal. They point, first, to the failure of the neighborhood to stop the construction of Cedar Square West. They also point to the continuing encroachment of the educational and medical institutions: hospitals demolished housing for parking ramps, and Augsburg College did the same for parking lots and a campus building. Finally, they note the problems the newly created housing co-ops are experiencing in attempting to organize their members and purchase their...

  16. CHAPTER 10 The Legacy of Cedar-Riverside
    (pp. 257-262)

    In the summer of 1991, as the neighborhood redevelopment wound to a conclusion and I returned to Minneapolis to prepare this book, I visited those who had been most active in the movement to save and rebuild Cedar-Riverside. I asked them to reflect on what they thought they had accomplished, what they thought they had failed to accomplish, and what, if any, legacy they had left behind. Here is a sampling of what they said. For some, their achievements brought a quiet sense of pride.

    I’m really glad I got to take some of those things that were gleams in...

  17. APPENDIX: Interviewees and Interviews
    (pp. 263-264)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 265-272)
  19. References
    (pp. 273-292)
  20. Bibliography of Newspapers and Newsletters
    (pp. 293-296)
  21. Index
    (pp. 297-307)