Polars on Plymouth
As time in the Northside progressed, the neighborhood transformed from a new one with a distinctly Jewish influence, to an established neighborhood plagued by urban problems. By the time this development program was underway in 1991, the school itself was over 100 years old, and the neighborhood around it much older. Buildings were not in their best shape, and the community desired to redevelop Plymouth Avenue. This 16-block project included Plymouth and 8th Ave. N. to Humboldt and James Ave. N.
Funded by non-profit developers, community partners, and professionals, the $3.7 million project seemed a daunting task. However, Polars were not to be left out of the project. It was an effort that, at the start, seemed like an unlikely group. With only 1% of architects black and 8.5% women at that time, North students broke that standard to include five black students and three females. All but one of this small group lived in the Northside area, living in the exact places they wanted to renovate.
Plans included community gardens, basketball and tennis courts, tree-lined sidewalks and cul-de-sacs. This would create a community free from places where drug peddlers could meet and also a place for families to feel safe.
Paul Bauknight, the architect at the helm of this project, stated his opinions on this project very clearly.
We stressed that a neighborhood is more than just houses in a row, that this is a community, and people have to live here, and to think about what people really need.
Cal talks about the project:
KBEM Radio Station
Another way that students have gotten out of the classroom and into the community is with the partnership of the Jazz 88.5 FM radio station, KBEM. Over 150 students, not all from North High, work on the station, learning what happens behind the microphone. KBEM also gives the Northside community a way to advertise and hear real voices. The students work 9:00-3:00 on the radio station and write hour-long programs, such as "Jazz from A-Z".
KBEM offers MnDot traffic reports as well as good music. During 2005, one of the larger controversies was that MnDot was going to cancel its relationship with KBEM, but with a protest from the community, the partnership was renewed again. This radio station not only provides unique information on the school, but it aids the community in the way that no other radio station has. KBEM is the only jazz station that also provides sanctioned weather and traffic reports. Students have worked on projects that have been recognized by the state. Some students have gone on from these internships to work at successful jobs at other radio stations and media companies.
This program is owned by Minneapolis Public Schools, and was originally developed for the Minneapolis Vocational High School. It moved to North High in 1983, where it has stayed ever since. This program has been heavily influenced by North, since that is its main base of operations, but it has plans to develop into a district-wide effort.
1500 James Ave. North Minneapolis, MN 55411
Telephone: 612.668.1700 | Fax: 612.668.1770