'Here is MPLS' nominations open for $5,000 grants to change city narrative

A new organization is hoping to change the narrative around Minneapolis.

They know the last couple of years has left some people feeling fearful about safety or finances. But they want to focus on healing, hope and love.

The organization is called "Here Is MPLS" and its aim is to find inspiring stories and shine a spotlight on them, so people get a more complete picture of the city.

The COVID-19 pandemic and George Floyd’s murder by a police officer delivered a one-two punch to the image of Minneapolis. The scene of Floyd’s death serves as a reminder of what went wrong and maybe, how the city can evolve.

"George Floyd Square is a piece of the narrative," said Jerome Rankine, the editorial director for Pollen, which is collaborating with Here Is MPLS. "I think it is a very tangible and real demonstration of how far the city has to come but also of a community that came together and decided what this space could be and could represent."

On a freezing Friday afternoon, Nadege Souvenir, the chief operating officer of St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation could hardly contain her warm feelings for Minneapolis.

"Here are we standing just outside of downtown in front of a park," said Souvenir, who’s on the Here Is MPLS advocacy council. "This city probably has per capita more theater seats than any other place outside of New York, so there’s a vibrant arts community. There’s a thriving sports community. There really is something for everyone in this city."

A FOX 9 reporter moved to Minneapolis from California a couple of months ago, so we asked some of his Golden State friends for their thoughts about Minneapolis.

"It’s a mid-sized city that has a lot of good food and probably a more diverse culture than most people would expect," said Adam Wall of Fresno.

"Here Is MPLS" wants that kind of positive impression to spread.

The organization is taking nominations for people and groups with inspiring stories — especially in the fields of housing, opportunity equity, public safety, and civic engagement. Twelve winners will get $5,000 grants and have their stories told with a megaphone.

The non-profit hopes if people see their neighbors doing good work, they might have a better feeling about their city. They might even want to join in or start their own projects.

"So we hope that there’s a ripple effect from this, and it doesn’t limit itself to just those 12 stories," said Rankine.

Nominations are open on the "Here is MPLS" website until March 24.