Something special often happens when people come together for a good cause. On Saturday August 20th, 2011, two IPR graduates and six current IPR students volunteered their entire day to assist Walter Chancellor Jr., and myself, Christian Groves, at the Metrodome’s “We Care: North Minneapolis Recovery” stage. The event was designed to work in conjunction with the Metrodome open house, which was the first time since the dome roof collapse that the dome has been open to the public. But the real story here is how this opportunity has opened the doors for “We Care” to help tornado victims.
“We Care” is a non-profit setup specifically to help meet the needs of those who were affected by the Tornado this spring in North Minneapolis. The organization is new, and they’re just ramping up their efforts, so it was a no brainer when Minneapolis Mayor, RT Rybak, asked them to put something together for the Metrodome open house and reopening. The idea was to connect the reopening of the Metrodome with the North Minneapolis recovery effort in an attempt to send the message that, even though Minneapolis has had a few tough blows within the last 9 months, we are rebuilding, and we can weather the hardships. I personally applaud the Mayor’s attempt to make a difference.
So why did IPR agree to help “We Care”?
Stephen Slater (S4 Design), a close friend to IPR and the JLR Foundation (Ideawerks.org), was brought in to handle the branding for “We Care”; he, in turn, approached IPR about getting involved. We decided Stephen’s request for help would be a good way for IPR to extend our community outreach efforts as a college. Since IPR had a few volunteer staff and students to help with the city’s tornado relief effort earlier this year, Stephen thought it might be a good match to include us here too.
Local business man Ezell Jones, and Sarah T. Paul of partneringforyouth.org were the go to leaders for the “We Care” team, and they provided necessary direction to make sure we were ready by a very tight deadline. Our goal was to collect school supplies and backpacks for 1,000 children by September. The estimated cost of this was $22,000 ($22 per child), and the biggest donor for this so far has been Target Corporation… they donated $11,000. World Vision is contributing an additional $29,000 worth of brand new winter coats and tennis shoes for children affected by the tornado. And, even though these numbers are representative of the “We Care” effort, full restoration is still to come.
It’s typically a casualty of popular news cycles to cover tragedies like the one in North Minneapolis for a short time and then move on to the next big story; the peoples’ collective psyche has a tendency to follow. At IPR we hoped that participating in the “We Care” event would help keep the relief effort fresh in the minds of our community for at least a little longer. Just because we’re subject to a short media tail doesn’t mean the people’s needs have been met, and it’s good to be reminded that the estimated recovery for the spring tornado could take between 3-5 years. That’s why it was essential that “We Care” make an impact early on.
The quality of participating artists helps to illustrate the importance of this cause:
Warner Brothers’ recording artist Auburn headlined the day. She’s a Minneapolis native, and we were honored to have her on board for such a great cause.
Supporting artists included Ne’s Salem Baptist Church Choir, rap artist Protégé, and indie rock artists West of Aldine. Ne’s Salem Baptist Church Choir literally had the speaker stacks swaying, rap artist Protégé brought a Twin Cities Hip Hop flavor to the mix, and West of Aldine offered a rock groove that transitioned nicely into Auburn’s headlining role.
IPR Instructor and independent recording artist Walter Chancellor guested on sax with Auburn for her song “Perfect Two”, and both Walter Chancellor and Stephen Slater guested on a tune with West of Aldine. The West of Aldine Jam was a highlight of the day for me.
All artists agreed to perform because they too wanted to highlight the ongoing need of the North Minneapolis tornado recovery.
Even though the work has just begun, it’s my hope that IPR will continue to foster a sense of community through participation in events like this, and that IPR students will continue to volunteer and truly feel they’re a part of the North Minneapolis community as well. We may not be able to take up the entire burden of helping those around us, but we do want to play a part in the solution.
Please take the time to notice the volunteer work of the following graduates / students, and let them know you appreciate them for their efforts:
The “We Care” stage crew included April Wallace, Caleb Hollenback, and Tanner Shelle.
The “We Care” video crew, assisting Dan Schmidt and Fade to Black video production company, included graduates Josh Burdette, and Jimmy Watkins, and current IPR students Andrew Marshall, Phillip Moore and Michael Swan.
Special thanks to all of you; the day would’ve been a mess without your assistance.