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Audio: A Community Roundtable on Reimagining the Future of Transit after COVID-19 – Part Two

We return to Move Minnesota’s Theresa Thompson Nix, Theresa Nelson, and Finn McGarrity on the Twin Cities Radio Network with host, Wes Smooth for a roundtable discussion on the intersections of transit and other issues concerning the broader Twin Cities community.

During this second half of the show, Theresa Nix introduces Pastor Scott of Saint Paul Fellowship and Janelle Clepper of Nourish Community Wellness. Pastor Scott and Janelle Clepper reflect on what they learned and contributed during a series of community conversation that Move Minnesota hosted throughout 2020. This recording was part of a segment of the program, I.C.A.R.E.

Get caught up: Listen to Part One of the episode here.


Listen now to Part Two of this conversation. A transcript is also provided below.

Thank you to Wes Smooth and Twin Cities Radio Network for hosting Move Minnesota and our community partners!

Get connected with Theresa Thompson Nix at for more information about this conversation and future community conversations.

Transcript of Part Two

Wes Smooth (WS): And once again, thank you for tuning in to the Twin Cities Radio Network. Yes, we are coming back into our weekly community show, which is entitled I.C.A.R.E. As you know, I.C.A.R.E is an acronym for increasing community awareness, responsibility, education. Today’s show is sponsored by Move Minnesota, who is our guest as well. I mean, these guys have been doing some work. And so what it is, is that they’ve got a lot of results based on the long period of time that they’ve been doing this work. And a part of this work was having community conversations in the communities with people and getting real answers, having real conversations. And some of those conversations consisted of youth, [food] security, transit, all kinds of different subjects. And I want to welcome to the Twin Cities Radio Network via phone [a guest] Pastor Scott, how you doing, sir?

Pastor Scott (PS): I’m doing well. Thanks for having me here.

WS: Good, good, good. Maybe next time we’ll have you here in person. But those conversations, you were a part of those conversations. What were some of the things that were covered in, what did you get most out of those conversations?

PS: Yeah. I really enjoyed being a part of being able to provide some feedback to some of the things that our community was experiencing over the past several months. One of the primary areas that we were involved in, myself – I’m one of the pastors at Saint Paul Fellowship Church, which is located in Frogtown. We’re a 501(c) 3 nonprofit. And we were approached by a woman named Delania Harris to just being in having conversations about the importance of getting access to healthy food in our neighborhood. And so we found that after the murder of George Floyd we found that we were all kind of responding in crisis and doing a lot of food [distributing] – responding to the grocery stores being closed, transportation being shut down, and just trying to get food and essentials out to people just on a regular basis.

But we realized that we couldn’t do that long-term and so we kind of came back together and started to recognize like, hey, we need to get back to some more long-term sustainable ideas. So we, what we did is we started to do – in cooperation with multiple community organizations – food distribution throughout the summer from a parking lot that was just one block off of Victoria and University, really close to public transit. And so yeah, so we were, we were able to provide the feedback and just say kind of talk about the importance of having access to healthy food that was in close proximity to where people were living and located because they were more likely to get something closer to them than they were further away.

Theresa Nix (T.Nix): And you know, I have to say that you know, as I worked for Move Minnesota in the community engagement sector, I have seen Pastor Scott out in the community doing work. And it is over time that I figured out that you know, their food distribution site was listed with the Twin Cities Mutual Aid Network. And it’s a wonderful map and tool that allows people to see where the food distribution sites are along, you know, I guess over a map, so you can see where your bus is going to go, or your transit stop is in relation to food access. And it was just really important. So I really valued that resource. And once I kind of put everything together, it was very cool to learn more about the work that you all are doing in the community. And so it was funny, we talked just the other day about your food distribution program. Can you tell me, Pastor Scott, a little bit more about examples of how this has been important for the community?

PS: Yeah. so I think that’s one of the things that we saw this summer was just access to the healthy food. And basically, you know, we’re sitting in this time of a global pandemic that’s affecting our health or physical health that, and we were dealing with the civil unrest after, after George Floyd’s murder. And we’re, we’re dealing with a sense of almost fear in some ways of being able to move around a little bit more. So both of those things combined, I think, created an environment that was a little bit more challenging for people to, you know, to kind of trust themselves and trusting their neighbor and trust neighborhoods, and be able to move out [around] again. I think, I think being able to provide a consistent regular access point to the healthy food that was really within a familiar area provided a sense of connection and comfort. And also, I think a source of hope too. I think it was really important for all of us who were organizations who were a part of it as community members and seeing our neighbors to like start to just get out and connect more. And we thought kind of as an avenue for kind of recognizing like, hey, we’re, we’re really in this together. You know, our economically challenging time being able to have a get healthy food without, you know, for free was really significant. I know from my family and other people’s families as well during a really challenging season. So I think it, it provided a sense of togetherness that I don’t think, be true with you, I don’t think I even anticipated that as much until we’re until we were in it.

T.Nix: Yeah. And in our conversation too, you had mentioned how food security is not a new issue. It has been going on, and I just really love that there are small groups of people getting together and doing solution-based action. It is small, a lot of small actions added up that, you know, kind of really contribute to the movement. So you know, have there been pockets of joy that you found in your work?

PS: Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, you’re absolutely right. This was, this is not something [new], you know, for the Frogtown neighborhood and Rondo neighborhood to have dealing with issues with food security. And so I think, I think that’s the thing that we, we have found, some joy in the fact that I think we were able to meet an important need during this time. And I think again, like the joy of the community, I think is a good. The joy of connecting with neighbors and meeting neighbors and meeting people and people being a part of something. I think one of my favorite things personally during the food distributions and just walking with neighbors occasionally just to bring their bags, that’s healthy food, to their doorstep and just walking and talking with them as we go. And I think that was something that once again, you know, when you’re thinking, going through a lot of stuff that you almost take for granted that it feels like we’re meeting a need in this really difficult time. And yet, visually, connections around this was really – and I think people were really grateful and thankful for being able to get to have so much healthy food available. I think it was really, really important.

T.Nix: Yes. You know, based on some of the work that Move Minnesota has partnered with other organizations to do. We know that connection is really important not, not just connections in terms of getting around, but connections in, in terms of people connecting to others. You know, that’s one of the reasons why transit option, you know making sure people have choices and ways to get around that are easy and efficient and would help you get your groceries to where you need to go. It’s very important. And we have a north/south type of limit when we’re talking about different transit opportunities in the neighborhood. You know, I think we see that is it the 87 going north and south. But we need a little bit more of that trying to get to the north and south. We have several routes that go east and west, but that is a gap.

WS: I’m learning so much, you know, from listening, which is the reason why I’m not asking as many questions, but I do have some, I definitely have some questions, you know, and I know that for the work that you guys are doing, it also encompasses some of these conversations consisted of health and wellness. We talked about food work and of course safety for liberation.

Theresa Nelson (T.Nelson): Yeah, when we think of safety and, you know, walking to transit, safety in this pandemic time of feeling comfortable and being able to socially distance, and definitely safety on our streets, and having streets that are safe to cross [especially] for our children. And so we talked a lot about safety at Move Minnesota and mostly around how can we move and pedestrians and bicyclists and transit users can use our street as, as people. And so that’s, that’s the kind of [safety] that we focused on a lot [during these community conversations].

WS: All right. We’re going to go to a quick break. This was going to be a quick one, and then we’re going to come back and –

T.Nix: We’ll talk with Janelle Clepper too.

WS: Oh, okay. Once again, you are listening to the Twin Cities, radio networks, community show sponsored by Move Minnesota. We’ll be back in just a minute.

[show break]

And yes, once again, Oh my God. I’m glad to know that what’s happening here that a lot of people are receiving this information. We have someone else who have joined us, Ms. Janelle Clepper. Hey, good afternoon, Janelle.

Janelle Clepper (JC): Hi, thank you, Wes. Thanks so much for having me. Theresa Nix, Theresa Nelson, Finn, and Pastor Scott, it’s been a pleasure just to listen in on this conversation. I am the director of Nourish Community Wellness, and we are advancing health equity through developing wellness leaders within their community. This conversation really dovetails with our work really well as we’re focused on nutrition, physical activity, community connections, and emotional wellbeing. So thank you again so much for having me. I appreciate it.

T.Nix: Well, I think it’s so important that we are rounding out this discussion with a huge – now as part of what we are doing in the community for a total impact – that when we all are going in the same direction, we’re moving each other and the needle forward towards progress for our region. And so Janelle, what are some of the things that you’ve been hearing during the conversation today that have resonated with you?

JC: Thanks, Theresa. And I just want to really key in on the opportunity to experience joy that I’ve heard you say. We know that that our Indigenous populations, Black people, and other people of color in our communities are disproportionately affected by chronic disease. And equitable transit is an opportunity for us to find joy and liberation through reduced stress. We have an opportunity really to – as a Finn pointed out – really to provide access to education. Making sure that college is available and an opportunity just by being able to get people on campus, as Finn shared, getting people to internet access reliably, and that actually connects people to opportunities for work and more choice. The more choices that we have in life, I think really bring us opportunity to reduce stress and then also really to prevent and improve outcomes and in chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease, et cetera.

So Finn that was a great point. I loved hearing about Pastor Scott and talking about food access, making sure that people through transit have access, not only to the food distribution sites, but then full service grocery stores and farmer’s market – really having access to healthy food is about choice as well, helping people to be as healthy as possible from providing choice and where they’re getting their food. Those were some key points that I heard that were just great. I’d also add you know, access to affordable childcare, choices in your health care, and also mental health care as well. That by having equitable transit, you have access to, to really take care of ourselves and to move forward. Also access to green space is key as well, gives us the opportunity for physical activity and community connections. And all of that is indeed liberating and healing.

T. Nix: Janelle, you and I have also had conversations about micro-economies. Can you talk a little bit about that in, in terms of summation of our conversation today?

JC: Yeah, Theresa, it was a great conversation. It really brought to light that we are [part of] micro-economies. We think about big world economies and we can see how more of this and less of that changes our opportunity, but we can also think about our personal bodies and then also families and households as a micro-economy by investing in ourselves, in our own bodies through our choices in work. Choosing healthy lifestyle, having choice to connect to all of these different food, health care, education, quality and affordable childcare – we’re improving our bodies by reducing that stress and moving us forward. So an investment in that economy allows us to make better investment in our household economies, that we can be more present and available to raise up children. Giving them the best opportunity to self-actualize to find their talents, their abilities choose their education, to find meaningful work for themselves.

And in our households just supporting each other through relationships, and mental health, and emotional connections. So as we str investing in safe and equitable transit – beautiful transit, giving people these connections – we’re moving forward the whole. The personal economy and our bodies, our health and wellbeing, our family connections, household connections for wellbeing, your chosen family…and that advances the economy as we are participating in our different purchasing and providing services within the neighborhood. That was a great conversation. Thanks for reminding about that, Theresa.

T.Nix: Absolutely. This all matters and we’re seeing it unfold in our streets. This conversation is more important than ever as we think about how we anchor ourselves towards the end of 2020 and into 2021 and into the future, because if we’re not looking forward in planning for what’s next, we will miss the opportunity. So that’s why it’s critical now. Wes?

WS: I would say so too. It is critical. And this is such an interesting conversation. And the dissemination of this information to the community, I think is very important. Guys as we’re getting outta here – because we are getting out of here for sure. I knew we would go a few minutes over, but that’s okay. Any thank yous and or shout outs that you guys might have that you’d like to send out while you are on air.

T.Nix: I would really like to say thank you to all of our guests for joining us. Janelle, you’ve just named them, but I also want to say thank you to the Move Minnesota team, Twin Cities Radio Network has been a wonderful host and educator for all of us on how to lift up media as a way to reach out to our community. And we really care about I.CA.R.E. You are doing community awareness responsibly through education and we thank you.

WS: Oh, well, I’ll take that. I’m bowing for you guys who can’t see me, I’m bowing.

T.Nix: ‘round of applause.

WS: Thank you. How about you guys?

T.Nelson: Yeah. Thank you so much, Wes. And I just like to add to the team those who have joined us, joined our conversations prior to today and: Urban Farmer Garden Alliance, PPL, Frogtown Farms, Model Cities, the Hmong Chamber of Commerce, and Reconnect Rondo. And of course, Saint Paul Fellowship Church and Selby JazzFest. So we’ve had a lot of people join these conversations and we look forward to continuing the conversation…

WS: Yes, we do. Anyone else before we get outta here?

Finn McGarrity (FM): Just echoing what everyone else said. Thanks everyone. It was great to hear from Janelle and Pastor Scott. Thanks for having us.