Who are our neighbors? What are the stories of our neighborhood?

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“What Grows Here” was a 7 month long neighborhood storytelling project conceived and produced by Dylan Fresco, and created in collaboration with Michelle Barnes.  It was an opportunity to connect people and communities together through circulating the stories that grow along Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis.   Dylan has worked in the neighborhood as an artist for over ten years. Michelle has lived there since she was two years old, and works in the neighborhood as both an artist and a youth educator.

“What Grows Here” was commissioned as part of the “Arts on Chicago” initiative, an arts-based community development project in Minneapolis, MN, led by Pillsbury House + Theatre, Upstream Arts, the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association, and MCAD Professor Natasha Pestich with support from the Ward 8 Council Office of Elizabeth Glidden. Arts on Chicago was funded in part by Artplace, a collaboration of twelve of the nation’s leading foundations, eight government agencies including the National Endowment for the Arts, and six financial institutions across the U.S.


Dylan and Michelle asked people who live, work, and go to school on and around Chicago Avenue to share their stories of the neighborhood. (To read about some of those experiences, check out www.whatgrowshere.wordpress.com, the project blog that Dylan wrote to document the process of the project.)


Dylan and Michelle spent the winter and spring meeting with over 70 people who live, work, or go to school in and around Chicago Avenue in the Powderhorn and Central neighborhoods of South Minneapolis.  In May,  the two of them led free 90-minute guided “StoryWalks” along Chicago Ave between 33rd and 38th streets.


As they walked with audience members up and down the block , Dylan and Michelle shared the stories of the neighborhood as they’d heard them from people who make up the communities connected to this street. In addition, they invited people who were walking with them to share their own stories of these blocks and buildings, and of life in these communities.  Dylan and Michelle then incorporated many of these stories into future StoryWalks. Thus, each StoryWalk was as unique as the group of people who walked with it.