Alliance for Metropolitan Stability
As the Twin Cities region plans to exponentially grow its transitways, the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability is working to connect the unconnected, making sure that community voices are at the table and have the tools they need to be successful advocates. The Alliance was formed in 1994 around the idea that working together can increase power. A coalition of 26 grassroots organizations, the Alliance helps groups look at issues through a social justice lens, think outside of their individual niches, and come together for cross-sector collaborations. They have played a facilitating role in a variety of economic, racial, and environmental justice campaigns around the Twin Cities area.
Recently, the Alliance was asked by the Harrison Neighborhood Association to partner with them. Neighborhood residents are concerned that proposed diesel train storage would pollute the nearby residential neighborhood, eliminate jobs, threaten the chances that a transit stop would be located there to serve the community, and worst of all—thwart the community’s own plans for redevelopment . Together, the Harrison Neighborhood Association and the Alliance are getting the attention of the community, local elected officials and federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Transit Administration in their work to achieve fair and equitable transit development.
The Alliance is also one of three lead agencies participating in the HUD-sponsored Corridors of Opportunity Engagement Project. The Alliance for Metropolitan Stability is working with Nexus Community Partners and Minnesota Center for Neighborhood Organizing to identify, develop and support targeted strategies that engage underrepresented communities in planning, decision-making and implementation processes on and around transit-oriented corridors.
The Stops for Us Coalition is another great example of how these partnerships work. All of the stations on the proposed Central Corridor light rail line were one half mile from one another, but there were one mile gaps between the stations from Snelling Avenue all the way to Rice Street. The majority of residents in this densely populated area are people of color, living in low-income neighborhoods that are more transit dependent than most living on the line. These three missing stations would be detrimental to the surrounding communities. Because the issue affected community members on so many levels, a wide variety of groups quickly became interested in executing an organized campaign. Stops for Us, a coalition of local community-based policy and advocacy organizations, was born out of this interest, and the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability played a supporting role.
Stops for Us campaign partners included:
• Asian Economic Development Association
• Aurora/Saint Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation
• Community Stabilization Project
• District Council Collaborative of St. Paul and Minneapolis
• Got Voice Got Power!
• Hmong Organization Project
• Housing Preservation Project
• Jewish Community Action
• JUST Equity
• Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
• Model Cities, Inc.
• Preserve and Benefit Historic Rondo Committee
• St. Paul NAACP
• St. Paul Urban League
• TakeAction Minnesota
• Transit for Livable Communities
• University Avenue Business Association
• United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 789
• University United
With the Stops for Us coalition, the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability provided organizer assistance and acted as a convener for discussions around transit equity and the impact of transit development on the local community. As the campaign progressed, local groups assumed more of the convening responsibilities, while the Alliance began to focus on technical aspects such as navigating complicated government structures associated with transportation development. Eventually, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Federal Transportation Authority were both involved in the conversation.
On January 25, 2010, it was announced that all three missing stations would be built. Thanks to local funding and a federal match, the stations will be constructed with the rest of the line. Although the goal of the campaign had been achieved, it was not the only triumph. Due in large part to the Stops for Us coalition, the Federal Transportation Authority revised its policy regarding public works projects to extend beyond cost-effectiveness to include economic development, social benefit, and sustainability and livability when considering new proposals.
While this issue was just one among many involving the construction of the Central Corridor line, it represents an important victory. This campaign shows the power of coalition and collaboration. Together with coalition partners, the Alliance fought an overlooked social justice issue, brought neighborhood residents and small businesses to the table, and managed to change federal policy. While this issue is just one among many involving the construction of the Central Corridor line, it represents an important victory. This campaign shows the power of coalition and collaboration. Together with coalition partners, the Alliance fought an overlooked social justice issue, brought neighborhood residents and small businesses to the table, and managed to change federal policy.