ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Victoria Caprioni had a simple idea: ask her neighbors to come outside the first Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. to wave at one another and talk.
After a violent few months in St. Paul, Caprioni brought the idea up at an East St. Paul neighborhood meeting. Her goal was to ease fears, start conversations and build community through interacting with neighbors on a monthly basis.
“It wasn’t exactly a lightning strike, but it was an idea as I stood on my front stoop,” Caprioni said.
She asked her neighbors to come outside at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and wave, give a smile or come out on the sidewalk and talk.
“I would love to see more unity in my neighborhood and my block,” Caprioni said.
She’s lived in the same house in the same East St. Paul neighborhood for nearly 30 years. In that time, she says she’s seen the neighborhood change.
“I see people struggling more and the neighborhood changing. More, different races, which is good. It was almost all white people and now there’s more diversity than ever, so that’s encouraging. It’s taking on the face of truly St. Paul in many ways,” Caprioni said.
With an uptick in gun violence in St. Paul in the past few months, Caprioni says she’s heard that some people are scared to go out in their neighborhood. She said she’s hoping meetings like the one she planned on Tuesday start to change that.
St. Paul Police caught wind of her Tuesday evening plan and decided to amplify her message. Police shared her plans on their social media pages and two officers from the department joined Caprioni and her neighbors as they chatted.
“Something like this that’s small, little steps can be impactful if you just acknowledge that there are other people like you or have the same cares in their community as you do, it can be a big thing. Who knows, maybe it will catch on. That would be great,” St. Paul Police Department Commander Curt Hallstrom said.
Some other neighbors on Caprioni’s block support the idea of a monthly neighborly chat, too.
“I think it’s a great idea. If more people communicate, acknowledge one another, have peace,” neighbor Toni Peterson said.
Caprioni says she hopes to carry on the monthly meet-ups and hopes that other neighborhoods adopt a something similar to build stronger communities.
“I’m not saying this is going to change the world, but if some people just realize that we share a lot as human beings we can do great things. But, we have to realize we have more things that we share than we are different,” Caprioni said.