The Minneapolis Story Home Page

The Experience of Ron Edwards

A Renaissance Black Man in a White Man's World

A Beacon for Freedom in the City

Solution Papers

Home | All Solution Papers » | All Columns » | All Blogs »

Solution Paper #45a, March 31, 2011, posted May 25, 2010
last update May 27, 2011 (to be updated with new columns, blog entries, and solution papers, as they apply).

"PLANNING": UPDATED/EXPANDED: For The Positive Future Possibilities Of Minnesota, for Minneapolis in General and the African American community in particular. March 31, 2011; first posted May 25, 2011, with updates of new columns, blog entrees, and Solution Papers, as written.

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”
                                                            --- Martin Luther King Jr.
 “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
                                                            --- Larry Elder
“One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.”
                                                            --- Sidney Howard
"A goal properly set is halfway reached."
                                                            ---Abraham Lincoln 
"I know I got it made while the masses of black people are catchin' hell, but as long as they ain't free,
I ain't free."
                                                         --- Muhammed Ali

If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything . . . that smacks of discrimination or slander.

                                                            --- Mary McLeod Bethune

Perhaps the big lesson for me in 2010 is that you can't live an inconsistent life and truly be a part of change. When our words do not match our deeds and our preaching fails to be practiced, hypocrisy will undermine one's ability to truly lead. And, sadly, this type of hypocrisy is too rampant in our culture.”
                                                            --- Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, January 4, 2011

Mayor Booker describes much that is wrong with Minnapolis planning, preaching that is not practiced, be if from self-described community leaders or preaching f rom church pulpits.

There are obviously three approaches to planning:  (1)  those who believe it should be in the hands of the experts, (2) those who believe it should be in the hands of individual communities at the neighborhood level, and (3) those who believe a “middle ground” needs to be found where both can contribute but not at the exclusion of the other.  We fall into this third category.  It is not the attempts at planning that we have protested but the results they seem to promote which seem contrary to the well being of Blacks, especially of North Minneapolis.

We don’t expect either end of the political spectrum to convert the other, but we do expect, as our community’s survival depends upon it, to find the common ground where the circles of either end overlap and work there to plan the steps needed to solve the problems and needs in the areas of education, jobs, and housing.

The terms “calculus of meaning” and “calculus of pain” are taken from Chapter 17 of The Minneapolis Story and were coined by Peter Berger in his book Pyramids of Sacrifice:  Political Ethics and Social Change, a book that he followed up later with a book entitled, The Capitalist Revolution:  Fifty Propositions About Prosperity, Equality, & Liberty, both discussed in The Minneapolis Story.  Can we not say that all of us, regardless of where we stand politically and fiscally, want prosperity, equality and liberty?

Too many on the political left and political right believe we are locked into some kind of political death struggle.  We are not.  To repeat, the big question for planning is whether it should be top down or bottom up or some combination of these two.  It is not “either/or”.  It is “both/and”.  The question is how.

When preachers in their churches and pulpits, whether Black or White, whether one denomination or grouped together with others ecumentically, the ministers of Minneapolis too often work against what is best for the sons and daughters of the African. And we don't mean newly immigrant Blacks, we mean slave descendend Blacks. Ministers are in the middle of most planning discussions.

What to do? Attend planning meetings, watch, report. Hold group meetings. Use Solution Papers #42-#45 to learn the history of planning in Minneapolis and to obtain and to get a handl on hnow to and what solutions to bring to the table to planning in Minneapolis learn the history of planningpreparing with these four Planning pieces, at

The famous saying, “Plan your work, work your plan,” seems to have been changed by Minneapolis to “Plan your work, work your planning,” as planning becomes a closed loop of meeting after meeting with plans but little action, little change.  As seen from the columns listed throughout this “Solution Paper”, there have been many meetings to “plan” for the Northside, be it about education, jobs, development, children, social services, clinics, etc.  There have been various planning groups, from the “The 40” and “the 100” and “the 120” to corporate foundations and stand alone foundations, as various “key” people gathered to do “key” planning, etc.

For years, under different banners, “planning” and “plans” have been discussed in countless meetings, but with little to show other than fortifying the status quo.  Here, then, are thoughts gathered together from the various platforms of the Minneapolis Story (two books, weekly column, weekly public access TV show, weekly blog radio show) about the planning needed in general in any community, Black and white, fully inclusive, not exclusive, particularly in Minneapolis, to end the circular process of planners meeting with planners to plan meetings to plan, and instead actually develop and execute plans for and with the community, not just for the continuation of the bureaucratic process of planning for planning, but to bring the needed changes in education, jobs, and housing. 

In my book, The Minneapolis Story, through my eyes, in Chapter 8, housing, pp. 129-140 (also posted as Solution paper #41, housing, December 22, 2010), I reported the staggering sums spent on planning, amounts that often far exceeded the amount actually spent on what they planned for, a practice common not only to Minneapolis but, as reported and cited in that book, in cities across the country.  It is part of what is bankrupting America’s cities, that have become Planning Resorts for government workers in administration and education bureaucracies, larding themselves with extraordinary pay packages with unfunded liabilities for pensions and health care benefits now totaling, nationally, $1 Trillion, which they expect the tax payers on their city plantations to pay, coming particularly at the expense of communities of color, for which the money is not there.  See “60 Minutes”, December 19, 2010, on the The Day of Reckoning for state and city budgets woes.  

This piece reflects our aim of continuing to note that just as Minneapolis continues to show America how to keep us in our place (see January 4, 2006 Column #1), we will continue to work to demonstrate that our place is at the table with a seat for everyone.

April 25, 2007 Column #9: MPS educational genocide continues apace Who decides who's 'legitimate'? Plans that threaten the Black community

DG email

Numbers preceded below by the number sign (#) refer to the number of the solution paper on the list of solutions page of the Minneapolis Story web site.

Chapters From The Minneapolis Story Book posted on the Minneapolis Story Solutions Page:

From relevant Minneapolis Story Columns and Solution Papers based on the book:

(1) Education (achievement), (2) jobs (compliance with hiring rules), (3) housing (stopping red lining and the “containment” of Blacks, whether in the city or forced to outer enclaves through gentrification); (4) public safety (police treating all the same, better police-community relations; emergency of Black youth and gangs); (5) environment (clean water/air/soil), (6) governing issues (the city returning to following its own rules), and (7) ethics (moral framework).

Gaps to close (7 blocks);
Understanding the Past (3 blocks);
Understanding the Present (4 blocks);
Understanding the future (15 blocks).

We know that there are key differences, with the main one being that these barriers to access and opportunity have real results with real consequences that impact on the full society, not just Black communities.  Those who have not been able to engage within a framework of equal access and equal opportunity have often come to make up the group Eugene Robinson refers to as “The Abandoned,” resulting in jail, hanging out on street corners, gangs, gang banging, and getting lost in drugs and crime and homicide, all which have costs to the entire society in terms of human, material and economic resources. 

Robinson’s term “The Abanonded” comes from his new book, Disintegration:  The Splintering of Black America, what the New York Times review call “the great unraveling,” that began with the successes of the civil rights era of the 50s and 60s.  At the other end of the spectrum are those who make up what Robinson calls the “transcendent”, the Black superstars of academia, media, business, sports, entertainment (music, film), writers, government and non-profits, who either condemn The Abandoned or glorify them, whichever serves their “get ahead” purpose.  

As Robinson puts it in his book:

“There was a time when there were agreed-upon 'black leaders,' when there was a clear 'black agenda,' when we could talk confidently about 'the state of black America'—but not anymore.”

This is why planning has to first include Blacks from the beginning, not after the whites have established the agenda, and then secondly include not only the “designated Blacks” but Blacks from across the Black community spectrum, thus including all four groups that Robinson identifies.  As he makes clear, it is imperative that each group recognize that there are four groups and none speak or represent the other.

It is not the same with white America, although there are also “abandoned” whites, as in places like Appalachia, rural areas and the urban margins (with terms used such as hillbillies, trailer trash, other side of the tracks, hicks, etc).  But there is a big difference between the white Abandoned and the Black Abandoned:  the white knows that he or she can, in the most literal sense of the word, “dress up and fit in,” regardless of whether they actually try (and many will not, but they “know” they could if they did because they are white, a myth being harder to maintain as the demographics of America change with the new immigration from traditionally non-white areas of the world such as Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean).  Blacks remain black, and thus for many young Blacks the sense that they could “dress up and fit in” if they wanted to isn’t there.  Also, the prejudice and envy by whites of the Black elite/successful is greater than that the envy of whites of other whitesæ successes.

The four subgroups in Robinson’s typology are:

It is imperative to recognize that the Mainstram middle class is where the majority of Black Americans are.  It is also imperative to recognize that Black Americans have fewer businesses today than before the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s, with one of the reasons being that while civil rights leaders have pushed providing funds from government programs, many immigrants have participated in what could be called “ethnic succession,” stepping in where Blacks have stepped out, and, thus ethnic leap frogging, as they jump ahead of Blacks in the education and job games, concentrating on building small businesses rather than over relying on government programs.

In Robinson’s words, “these four groups have little in common and little reason to identify with each other.”  Hence both the Urban League and the National Democratic Party Executive Committee could toss out Nellie Stone Johnson, the Black seamstress who co-founded the DFL, as she was not an “educated” Black, and was a “mere” seamstress.  Likewise, the Urban League and the NAACP expelled me, as they want no reminders that the abandoned exist.  My biggest fault is that I constantly remind them.  They want to cover it up.  I keep pulling the covers back.  I invite them to join me again in pulling back the covers that hide what Minneapolis is doing to our community providing “lousy” education and purposefully denying jobs

The ecumenical community, white and Black, are among the Mainstream middle class and Transcendent, and thus thrust themselves with the politicians and foundations as the “voice of Black people” when, as Booker T. Hodges, President of the local chapter of the NAACP has pointed out, they are merely hustlers looking out for their own group.  Not believing in the advancement of the Abandoned, and not wanting much to do with them (just as white elites don’t want to have to bother with the great white unwashed), they busy themselves congratulating themselves that they provide food kitchens and social events and community gatherings, becoming so intoxicated with their personal sense of personal breast thumping righteousness for having provided food banks and 2nd hand clothes barrels, while actually doing little to protest the lousy education and denial of jobs that keeps the Abandoned an underclass.  Why?  Because, unlike Martin Luther King, Jr;, they don’t think they are qualifiable.

In other words, they do nothing to enable them to learn how to fish so they can get their own supper; they keep them queued up in dependency lines (creating more jobs for the Transcendent and Mainstream middle class as the expense of jobs for the Abandoned).  Thus they speak the euphemism “community” to refer to “them,” rather than speak actual “truth” about education, jobs, and housing.  And the obviously chosen way to be able to keep their distance with the Abandoned is to create government jobs (agencies, education) that pay both white and Black middle class to maintain the minimum for the Abandoned, as their “betters”, but make no effort to educate them so they can get good jobs and take care of themselves.

This shows a great lack of “cognitive respect” for the Abandoned, especially young Black men, demonstrating the unwillingness of the Transcendent and the Mainstream middleclass to exercise a “postulate of ignorance” about what is and what could be.  This is written not as a statement of moral principle but a statement of pragmatic observation:  you can’t get good planning, let alone results, if one intentionally stays blind to the reality of the community they plan for and intentionally deny the reality of the possibilities and qualifiabilities of the communities they plan for.

What passed as progressive and liberal in the 1930s is the same today – although put on hold during the civil rights era of the 50s and 60s – whether by progressive religionists or progressive secularists, who bask today in the glorious memory of their civil rights movement virtues, actually long since abandoned as they climbed, Black and white, into the ranks of the Mainstream Middle Class and the Transcendent.  Truly they feel that, having so climbed they are obviously more virtuous, and thus, better and deserving and entitled, and thus the ones that “know” what “should be” and “how” it should be regarding everyone else.  And after viewing the Abandoned, they conclude that as the Abandoned didn’t climb, they are truly incapable and undeserving and thus should feel very lucky to have the Transcendent and Mainstream middle class providing food lines and used clothing barrels to pick from for them.

Again Robinson:  “the ethos of racial solidarity that served blacks well during the jim crow era and the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s is gone.”  It is clear that in terms of Nellie Stone Johnson’s phrase, “no education, no jobs, no housing” (Chapters 7-9 of The Minneapolis Story), when it comes to anything stated by the Abandoned and their true community organizers and advocates, it is dismissed as wrong, stupid or pitiful (as opposed to what is said by those “organizers” and “advocates” paid by some government or union agency, who themselves are from the Mainstream middle class and the Transcendent.

Thus it makes no difference whether the head of the Civil Rights Department is man or woman, Black or white, as this person sees themselves as being “above,” in the Mainstream middle class or the Transcendent, where they nonchalantly continue to abandon The Abandoned, and cooperate, male or female, Black or white, in keeping the city plantation a plantation.  The same is true of the planners, whether of the city, the corporate or private foundations, or the University of Minnesota.

Prejudice is not our concern.  Our concern is discrimination, the blatant, intentional, and purposeful denial of equal access and equal opportunity, regardless of whether it comes from Whites or Blacks.  The most chilling statement we have heard reveals the clear divide and the reality of Robinson’s four part typology, as seen when the then Black Director of the City’s Department of Civil Rights said that the city can meet its minority hiring obligations without hiring Blacks. 

The residual racism of this country has quietly pushed women and gays and immigrants of all kinds  (the latter is Robinson’s third group) ahead of slave descended Blacks, each time pushing slave descended Blacks further to the back of the progressives’ bus.  These “other minorities” and non-slave descended immigrants are seen by “progressives” as bearing the burden of those descended from slaves, and the Transcendent/Mainstream middle class Blacks and whites, always on the look out for new victims it can lead and direct (and thus have paid jobs “serving”), go along with it as such myths are in their best interests.  Were they slaves?  No.  Were they mistreated?  Yes, but not like in slave times nor in jim crow times.  Denied access and opportunity?  Nowhere to the same degree.  Experienced being involuntarily uprooted from the land of their ancestors?  No.  Experienced the “middle passage”?  No.  Experienced at being put in chains and having their families torn apart?  No.  Given capital punishment for learning to read?  No.  Denied access to public accommodations?  No.  Suffered under defacto segregation? No.  The list goes on.

This is not to deny that women and gays and immigrants have not endured discrimination and suffering and injustice and death.  But it is to say that their experience is not equivalent to that of slave descended Blacks.  Affirmative action was to be a temporary form of assistance to make up for 400 years of not being able to build and pass on to the next generation, not something to be expanded to include over half the population.

The problem with the current system of planners is that it concentrates on what brings more and more into the pool of those to receive automatic benefits, therefore expanding their bureaus and jobs.  This type of well intended redistribution of wealth has very real unintended negative consequences:  such redistribution needs  wealth to have something to redistribute, and the current planning, failing to educate and provide living wage jobs, reduces the size of the pie and, thus, reduces the wealth that is desired to redistribute.  You either give pie slices away until the pie is gone and all are equal in nothing, or wealth is encourage so that there are taxes to use for those unable to build wealth or hold regular wage jobs.

So from a planning stand point (of which today more money goes into the planning for programs for the Abandoned that actually gets spent on the Abandoned, i.e., in their pockets to pay their bills or to get educated and trained to rise above the Abandoned level), we are clearly at a similar place as were the whites and Blacks in South Africa after apartheid was ended:  the need for a time of Reconciliation.  As Bishop Tutu demonstrated in South Africa, unless both sides can acknowledge the past evils, seek and give forgiveness, the status quo will continue and, potentially, result in a slide backwards.  There are plenty of models to use for reconciliation purposes, including those in Solution Paper #18.

This is why we concentrate on processes and specifics for solutions in The Minneapolis Story (both books and web site), real solutions to consider, and why we write of the NOs we don’t want and the “YESes” we do (with the caveat that YESes look out for the unintended consequences of resulting in items on the list of NOs), regardless of race and color and creed and gender.  That means education that educates and prepares students for real jobs and it means actually hiring a fair percentage of Blacks rather than a token 1% that is lied about as being many times more.  Why is it, for example, when one drives between Minneapolis and Mankato, one rarely sees a Black on a construction crew or in town on the building of stadiums and fields and arenas and other major developments? 

A warning, though.  The NOs are an easy list to develop and get agreement for.  The hard part is the YES list.  It is could be the slippery slope away from democracy toward a society ruled by regulations passed by bureaucrats, not legislatures.  Every totalitarian state began as a quest for liberation for the YESes and wound up subjugating because of the elite’s belief that their way was the best way, eventually treating people as potted plants to be pruned and shaped by the state playing gardener.

One way to justify not hiring Blacks has been to say, quite accurately given their lousy education, is to say they are not qualified.  Of course not when they have a lousy education system.  Martin Luther King noted the unqualified nature of many Blacks due to purposeful denial of education and experience opportunities.  But, he accurately said, “we are qualifiable.”  This is what the Transcendents and the Mainstream Middle Class Blacks deny, as do their fellow caste whites.

For planning, Robinson recommends narrowing affirmative action to the Abandoned (many benefits of affirmative action now go to the occupants and children of both the Transcendents and the Mainstream middle class.

Success in the Black community since the 50s and 60s has created self inflicted wounds.  As Nellie Stone Johnson points out in her book, Nellie Stone Johnson: The Life of an Activist, Brown vs. Board of Education was not inevitable.  As she put it about the state of affairs in 1949, “the educated part of the black community and the churches…were more middle class, and not economically or politically inclined to do something as radical as go to court over integration.”  It took people like this seamstress to push Thurgood Marshall and others to overcome their “failure of nerve” and thus make the case and take it forward. 

The Abandoned knew what to do.  The Transcendent and Traditional Middle class were unwilling, at first, to go forward, to rock the boat, as they were not in steerage.  They “had theirs” and didn’t want to upset their personal status quo.

Nellie provides us with another example of this disintegration in her book when she discusses the dismantling of the North Minneapolis housing of Blacks now referred to as the “Holman project”.  Nellie wrote this letter to the editor of City Pages, November 25, 1995:  “For over 50 years, black people have had their babies, raised their families, and buried their dead in the near north area of Minneapolis.  Now, before I meet my maker, I see what it all comes down to:  the liberals selling out the only black land we have ever known in Minneapolis to a bunch of development interests, with black leaders from the mayor to our community organizations falling into line.  Shame on the Minneapolis NAACP for participating in this terrible attack on our community…..  Have all the good black people lost their voices?  Stand up before it is too late for black children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.”

There is nothing wrong with the ascent of those who have made it into the Mainstream middle class and the Transcendent, and we celebrate that, and hope it for everyone.  What is wrong in every sense of that word is denying access and opportunity to climb out of the ranks of the Abandoned of poverty and lower class as well as those in the rung just above, the lower middle class, and to go along with the  barriers erected.  We can celebrate the Transcendent and the Mainstream Middle Class for their achievements but we won’t celebrate their turning their backs on those far less fortunate, as if these unfortunate deserved their fate. 

What I urge is all to work toward the time, soon – there is no reason to wait -- when we celebrate the rise out of forced steerage of all that are able and the reversing until ended what too often results in permanent pathology and moral dereliction of the Abandone.  Let’s invite them to walk and develop and grow in the sun light of the decks above.  As Martin Luther King wrote, “we can’t wait.”

This is where it is important to get the planning right that wants to deal with such “pathology and moral dereliction” comes into play.  We have drawn considerable attention over the years to the planning being done by the University of Minnesota and the city regarding the work of the Univesity’s Dr. Chiccetti, as well as planning for education, jobs, housing, and all manner of inclusion/exclusion.   

For more on our commentary on planning and plans, and intentional refusal to follow plans or plans related to statutes and requirements, see especially these columns:

May 25, 2011, Column #21: Budget battle threatens Vikings’ future
April 13, 2011, Column #15: Can Minnesota afford another stadium? Difficult times force difficult choices
March 23, 2011,
Column #12: Minneapolis Civil Rights case backlog eliminated — by shredding: The matter of Ronald G. Brandon, ousted chief investigator of Minneapolis Civil Rights Department.
March 09, 2011,
Column #10: “The Plan” revealed: no more jobs for Black Minnesotans in 2011 and beyond.
March 02, 2011,
Column #9:Sensitivity and Compassion in Education. The commitment to educate 835,000 children in Minnesota
February 23, 2011,
Column #8:Council on Black Minnesotans next to fall? Resignations raise concerns over accountability
February 09, 2011,
Column #6: Governor proposes $1 billion jobs stimulus program for Whites. No Compliance Enforcement Plan for Including African Americans.
January 26, 2011
, Column #4: The Black Church and the Black Council square off

January 12, 2011, Column #2: Collapse of local Black institutions continues. City, Inc.'s failures come at the expense of our children’s future.
January 05, 2011, Column #1: January 05, 2011 Column #1: Minneapolis proposes ordinance amendment redefining ‘small’ minority businesses For SUBP Ordinance (Small and Under Utilized Business Program). It’s not in the public interest, especially not that of African Americans.

December 22, 2010, Column #51: "Safe Streets" or "Street Safe" — take your pick. The fix is in again, and transparency is out
December 15, 2010, Column #50: Minneapolis Continues its Fairy Tale of Compliance. Only painful sanctions will make these tales come true.
November 24, 2010,
Column #47: Disparity Study reveals City failed to monitor hiring, contracting jobs and income. Result for Blacks: shameful loss of jobs and income
November 17, 2010, Column #46: Disparity study finally released. It took 15 years to tell us what we already knew

October 27, 2010, Column #43: The Attempt to Oust the NAACP President. Why?
October 20, 2010,
Column #42: A betrayal of trust: the closing of North High School
August 11, 2010
, Column #32: Disparities study long overdue in Minneapolis. Documents reveal City’s dereliction of duty

July 07, 2010, “Whose mental health issues incite Black violence? It’s not poor Blacks propagating dysfunctional social policies.”
March 24, 2010 Column #12: Murder on 4th Avenue: The violence continues
March 17, 2010 Column #11: Where’s the plan to confront these dangerous, violent times?
February 03, 2010 Column #5: Honest, transparent discussion needed on new MPS superintendent
December 23, 2009 Column #50: Urban League ‘Gateway’ passes the buck for leadership failure. What ‘stakeholders’ approved this assault on front-line workers?
November 25, 2009 Column #46: Black bank proposed for the Northside community
November 11, 2009 Column #44: Social agencies face deep financial cuts. Community tastes the bitter fruits of failed leadership.
October 21, 2009 Column #41: From Hollman to Heritage Park: How well we remember. The Northside project is a model for displacing Blacks from American cities.
October 7, 2009 Column #39: City violence spikes. Nellie Stone Johnson’s solutions (and ours): education, jobs, housing.
September 30, 2009 Column #38: Lost: one disparity study. Found: an approach to keep the racism and discrimination ongoing
August 19, 2009 Column #32: Let's fix health care before the nation implodes.
July 29, 2009 Column #29: Mid-Year Update
June 17, 2009 Column #23: New colonial masters fill our leadership vacuum.Foundation, Committee of 40 plan Black community changes
February 25, 2009 Column #8: With stimulus funds coming, where's the plan for inclusion?
February 18, 2009 Column #7: Where's the plan to ensure Blacks benefit from economic stimulus? Now's the time to ask your representatives.
January 7, 2009 Column #1: Nonprofits, foundations face funding crisis. Are contingency plans in place to safeguard communities of color?
December 31, 2008, Column #50: A most historic year for our nation. And a busy year for local discrimination as well.
June 11, 2008 Column #21: How can we save North High School? Its end looks near, a sacrifice to Northside gentrification
November 21, 2007 Column #24: Foundation in place to begin 'research' genocide—again
July 18, 2007 Column #15: Segregation is reborn to put us back in our place
July 4, 2007 Column #14: Where's The Jobs Plan? Minneapolis Kremlin initiates retaliation
June 6, 2007 Column #12: More Minnapolis Days of Infamy: The disappearance of Chapter 423 of The Minneapolis Code of Ordinances Regarding the Small and Underutilized Business Enterprise Program
May 9, 2007 Column #10: Blacks remain barred from big-money projects
April 25, 2007 Column #9: MPS educational genocide continues apace Who decides who's 'legitimate'? Plans that threaten the Black community
January 31, 2007 Column #3: Minneapolis backpedaling on civil rights protections in the matter of Rule 8.03B
December 27, 2006 Column #27: The Fifty Cent Solution: Our Review of 2006 in Minneapolis
November 22, 2006 Column #24: The Dark Corridors of Deceit in Minneapolis City Hall
November 8, 2006 Column #23: They patiently waited their turn
October 25, 2006 Column #22: The New Members of Minnesota's Kremlin: Republicans as Oppressive as the DFL
July 19, 2006 Column #15: The Continued Big Lies; Minneapolis at its Worst
June 7, 2006, Column #12: Hallelujah! Good Times Are Here Again! "Best Effort"
May 24, 2006, Column #11: Community Benefits Agreement Or Chilling Bureaucratic Autocrats?
January 18, 2006 Column #2: Researching you: analyzing the Black community
January 4, 2006 Column #1: The Death of the Civil Rights Ordinance: Minneapolis continues to show America how to keep us in our place
December 28, 2005 Column #26: Best of “Through My Eyes” in 2005: Minneapolis still trying to teach America how to keep us in our place
December 14, 2005 Column #25: Black opportunity crushed by council ramp vote: Keeping us in our place is the City's priority
November 2, 2005 Column #22: White piggies grab 88% of EZ funds Rybak keeps dumping on Black community
July 13, 2005 Column #14: Where is The Plan for Black’s share of jobs, development?
June 29, 2005 Column #13: Can we eliminate ourselves through violence in our streets?
April 20, 2005 Column #8: Black share of $5 billion construction: Zero. What can be done to reverse “Blacks need not apply” for the coming great construction boom?
March 23, 2005 Column #6: Another ‘plan’ to save Black youths
January 12, 2005 Column #1: Plantation University: When Can Their Words be Trusted?
December 30, 2004 Column #27: AMERICAN THE BEAUTIFUL, 2004 News Years Resolutions Regarding The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
December 16, 2004 Column #26: An Endangered Species: The Future of Black Men in Minneapolis
December 2, 2004 Column #25: Young Black Men Have Their Money Taken Away
October 7, 2004 Column #20: Plantation mentality denies Blacks $15 million
August 26, 2004 Column #17: Man the lifeboats! Minneapolis vessels hitting icebergs and sinking all around us.Examples: The USS Heritage Park (Hollman) and the USS Pioneer Press: Images of the Titanic.
May 20, 2004 Column #10: “Cry, the Beloved Country”: Still crying here in Minneapolis, 50 years later
May 5, 2004 Column #9: Dark tunnel of deceit and deception The story behind the story of the Mpls Branch NAACP's collapse
April 29, 2004 Column #8: The Empowerment Zones: Minneapolis' version of the plantation
October 22, 2003 Column #15: Dark days ahead for our fair city
October 8, 2003 Column #14: The Titanic Had A Better Day: The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s 3 October 1st Stories on Civil Rights: NAACP, Hollman, School Board
September 10, 2003 Column #12: Hollman low-income housing lost: A Dream Deferred: Here yesterday, gone today, nothing for tomorrow
August 27, 2003 Column #11: The Hollman/Heritage Park Saga Continues: A Little Bit of Poison Is OK, Afterall these are only Black children
August 13, 2003 Column #10: The Hollman trail of lies and broken promises
July 30, 2003 Column #9: Violation of a trust, betrayal of a people: The Hollman/Heritage Park environmental minefield chronology
July 16, 2003 Column #8: An Environmental Mine Field: Heritage Park/Hollman
June 4, 2003 Column #6: Targeting a Communit: The Deferring of a Dream, The Breaking of a Promise
May 21, 2003 Column #5: Economic development in Minneapolis—who gains?
May 7, 2003 Column #4: Wake Up, Minneapolis, and Change! Without Vision, We Perish
April 23, 2003 Column #3: April brings spring showers and the people's tears
April 9, 2003 Column #2: Springtime in Minneapolis: Whose flowers will grow?
March 26, 2003 Inaugural Column #1: The Minneapolis Story Continues, Through My Eyes

More thoughts, suggestions, and questions about planning.

There is a not so hidden warning for Blacks of the Transcendent and the Mainstream middle class, including the Black clergy.  Look at the mess they have made of education and jobs.  The risk is that make themselves as irrelevant as the Urban League and NAACP are, an irrelevance “earned” by abandoning the Abandoned as the Emergent community of mixed-race and Black immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia catch up and surpass them, as well as by the Abandoned if they, a large and growing underclass, especially inner cites and depressed pockets of the rural south, decide to follow the Emergent community leaders.
My contention is that the Transcendent and the Mainstream middle class may not be aware of it, but they have a great stake in the elevation of the Abandoned by championing equal access and opportunity for them through education and jobs.  Recall the history of the Jews who, historically, have often been well integrated into the economic and social life of their communities, having their own transcendent and Mainstream middle classes.  But they did not stand up for the Abandoned of their time.  They were in those societies, not of them, and often had their economic and social possessions and status stripped from them, especially Europe during the first half of the 20th century (not to mention other countries where Transcendent and Mainstream middle class Jews emigrate to Israel to be a lasting and integral part of a nation.  Blacks too need to be of the power structure of society, not just in it.  And as long as we stick to one political party, neither party need negotiate with us or include us, which is why our inner cities are in the shape they are in:    the Democrats know we won’t vote for the Republicans and they know they owe us nothing other than car rides to the voting booth every two years.
I invite the Black Transcendents and the Black Mainstream middle class to join together, regardless of political party, and advocate and work for, as Robinson advocates, a domestic Marshall Plan for our inner cities, one that includes not only economic development, but the unlocking of the doors to enable access to real education and real jobs for the Abanonded.  Now there are goals there that justify jobs for the Transcendents and Mainstream middle class, jobs that are not just more money stocking money horses for them.

So as a starting point for those seeking planning for the Abandoned in Minneapolis, especially in terms of education, jobs, and economic development, be the planners from government or non-government agencies, private or corporate foundations, churches or synogogues or mosques, that the planning begin with Chapter 17 of The Minneapolis Story and the Solution Papers on the web site, and that it focus first on getting representatives of all “stakeholders,” meaning all four Robinson groups, involved and at the table, and then establish an agenda of goals.  Then, to repeat, ensure that these goals are based on criteria for preventing undesired NOs, as well as criteria for including common YESes to promote, using a “calculus of meaning” and a “calculus of pain”, maintaining a sense of “cognitive respect” for the ideas being discussed and “contested”, especially those of the Abandoned.

We have an awesome political system in America.   All we need to do is follow it (a problem to get worse as the debates over who should and who should not be given paths to citizenship among those who are in one way or another “illegal aliens”, “undocumented,” “law breakers,” “children of undocumented,” etc., as different groups refer to them.  The need is to develop social policy in such a way that neither side has total sovereignty over the other nor be made to feel fully dependent on the others, as is now the case in Minneapolis   

It is also time for different sides contesting the ideas involved to end referring to those holding different ideas as being therefore inherently stupid or insane for entertaining them.  Such accusations, supported by ideological dogma rather than a more realistic calculus of the results of the positions held in terms of meaning and pain for those involved would be far more instructive.

Another calculus that needs to be on the table is that of prosperity.  When Black Newark Mayor Cory Booker was on a Bill Maher TV panel, the Transcendents at the table, and especially Bill in one of his “rants,” decried materialism (easy for those who have everything they want) and said growth has to stop, development has to stop.  Booker asked two questions.  First, he asked, does this mean you want to condemn the people of my city to perpetual poverty?  When the Msher said no, but could only sputter, Booker then asked a second question:  does this mean that you are willing to condemn to perpetual poverty the people of Africa and other poor nations?  Again he got “no” and sputtering.  So that brings us back to “how?”  Not by stopping growth, but by figuring out how to enable growth without polluting or harming the environment.  Needed is not to forthwith stop using oil and coal and shale, as the U.N. advocates, but rather work to create the “impossible,” the utilization of oil, coal and shale without creating pollution or undue negatives regarding climate change (whatever that is).  At one time, airplanes, horseless carriages, submarines, lights at night, and going to the moon and back were all deemed impossible dreams of fiction writers like Jules Vern.  Now they are real.  The answer is not stopping development but figuring out how to develop without polluting, and how to develop with inclusion of all, not exclusion of some, with equal access and opportunity for all, not select people deciding who will have access and opportunity and thus be winners, and who will not, and thus be losers.

There used to be the equivalent of a Black Wall Street on 6th Avenue North, 1934-35, up to the 1950. Then the Civil Rights Movement changed he emphasis from Black self-help to government help. During the days of Nellie Stone Johnson, co-founder of the DFL, and the work of this paper's founding publisher, Cecil Newman, Black enterprise was the key, as Blacks were shut out of more in American than just lunch counters. There were more Black businesses, albeit small businesses, before the Civil Rights movement than exist now. Indeed, there were more during the so-called Great Depression than there are now.

As President of the Urban League, my efforts led to the UL controling four pieces of property that were to be used to incubate new small businesses for Blacks. We had bought 4 buildings, and had a HQ, school, job employment piece and re-entry program, 1988-87. $2M in properties. Then, in the process of obtaining white money to build a new UL Headquarters, the Board shifted to following white planning "suggestions". Nellie Stone Johnson and I protested and we were both thrown out of the UL and the small business incubation plans and job employment re-entry piece were cancelled. . The govenor at the time said that any organization that would not accept Nellie and I, he would not work with, and refused to meet with them. For details, read Chapter 14 of The Minneapolis Story, THE ROLE OF MINNEAPOLIS BLACK ORGANIZATIONS IN THE MINNEAPOLIS STORY: Civil Rights Commission, Urban League, NAACP, Churches/Synagogues/Mosques: Being Part of the Problem Rather than the Solution, As They Move Toward White-Like Black-Elite Rule, For Spoils Not Principles And Sell Out Inner city Black Community Interests:Education, Housing, and Jobs, Dignity and Recognition.

We also wanted to start a research department. There really is no independen tBlack research capabilities in Black America, even in colleges. There are many organzations attempting to direct the Black community. They, more than any others, need to "listen" to the Black community as it "speaks" through these columns and papers. By "they" I mean, besides the obvious, all city agencies, such organizations and foundations as the Headwaters Foundation, which needs to use this piece for its own "Corrective" lenses. Despite gathering "over 300 African American leaders participating today", such organizations as The Northwest Area Foundation, Grotto, Minneapolis and Saint Paul Foundations, and others, despite " semi-annual forums and working groups on health, education, culture and community", community education, jobs, and housing, has gotten worse. Their vaunted " power of collective wisdom to mobilize, work with leaders, build capacity, leverage experience, and create opportunities" really means, of the elite, by the elite, and for the elite. Planning is really for them, not for the community. If their decades of planning were effective beyond bringing money into their organizations so they can continue the cycle of planning, it hasn't helped education see also our take on what The Kerner Report really means), jobs, housing, and public safety, especially the war on young Black men.

What is remarkable is their claim to be working at the grass roots organizing to foster sustainable communities.  What they don't get is this:  as long as they concentrate on the communities, they leave the major actors off the hook, those that run education, those that set and execute civil rights laws, statutes and regulations, those that pass state, county and city legislation and statutes regarding how "the game" is to be played, those that are allowed to ignore the compliance laws in jobs and hiring, especially of major projects, and the funding and financing of Black owned businesses.  All these get a pass by the various so-called "non-profits" worshiping the Golden Calf of "community," when the strength of community is only going to come from education, jobs and housing, which is continually sapped so that community stays weak and doesn't gather strength..

The direct correlation to poverty in this country is single parents and high school drops. 

A seat for everyone, not just the elites. It is time to live and put into practice the many wonderful statements, clichés, and phrases we have about brotherhood and peace, and about prosperity, equality and liberty.  It all begins with a seat for everyone to talk about, and eventually execute, a vision for America that includes freedom for all, Black or White, male or female, rich or poor, creed or no creed, urban or suburban or rural, gay or straight or other, as we keep the faith with Nellie Stone Johnson’s wisdom about the three keys needed for all:  education, jobs, and housing.  As she puts it, “the basic philosophy is to feed people, put a roof over their heads, and provide a quality education.”  In other words, a “craving for…better education, income enough to send our kids to school for a good education, quality food.  Very simple things for humanity.”  And what, dear reader, would you add to these a way to get to common YESes?  In a 1995 commencement address Nellie stated, “Yes your visions include economic security for family, success for yourself.  But this is hollow unless you strive to realize a shared vision for the community in which we live.”  Too often the “underlying populations” are the topics of discussion but are not present to participate.

Planning for Blacks is clearly under the heading of "this is THE way to do it" and "this is the way everyone else is doing it." Elite experts, Black and white, have become like call girls. Indeed, this is the theme of Arthur Koestler's tragi-comedy, The Call Girls, about "a group of pretensious experts attempting to offer their own ideas" but, being human, can't keep from "falling victim to the all-too-human impulses they are trying to remedy." They get the call to attend one symposium and planning session after another, locally or overseas or anywhere, where they gather " to analyze the causes of man's predicament, diagnose his condition, and explore possible remedies" which are then presented as THE remedies to follow, which they all then do, making it something that "everyone" is doing. Like a dog chasing its tail, lots of energy, but around and round and round they go, getting no where very fast and thinking they have been somewhere. And they catch their tails they think they have achieved something when in reality all they have achieved is to get back to where they started. As the liner notes put it, " their own jealousies, suspicions, and aggressions reveal them as a microcosm of the very problems they are trying to solve."

Who will call the Minneapolis family meeting to invite all to the table to begin the discussion regarding planning for the development of our community, beginning with the basic planks regarding education, jobs, and housing, engaging planning for the benefit of all Minneapolis stakeolders?  And who will set the tone for working toward policies and actions that will not only be acceptable to those at the table, but which will also actually work in the round table of real life. 

The French cried “liberty, fraternity and equality,” and pursued them at the cost of peace and prosperity, as they next got first the Reign of Terror and then Napoleon.  We have the hindsight of having either read about or experienced slavery, jim crow, a civil war, denial of public accommodations, land and wealth takings, urban riots, we know the terrors, unfairness and cruelty men and women are capable of and what is at stake.  I give my gift of this beacon of light and hope as found in the pages of my books and web sites and broadcast in my TV and radio shows, with the hope and prayer that we recognize the reality of the pain we administer and the meaning we can foster, to that, despite where we start from on the political spectrum, we don’t lose sight of the prize of equal access and opportunity, of justice and fairness, as work together to develop and follow a vision that will foster, create and invite everyone to take a seat at our community table of education, jobs and housing, as we work together to create a culture of of prosperity, fairness and liberty.

Sermon on the Mounters, where are you?

The problem with planners is there is too often a mindset centered on their knowing best what should be planned rather than knowing best how to plan what the commumity sees as best. Great community planning should be driven bottom up, not dictated top down. Too many municipalities evolve to the point where its bureaucrats believe the citizens should do as they direct rather than be the ones who show the citizens how to get what they want for their community. This attitude is all to pervasive across bureaucratic organizations.

Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish immigrant who was the Bill Gates of his day in that he was the richest man in the world, who started United States Steel, stated that all men of power, influence and wealth, "in their secret reveries," believe that t hey are, in fat, Superior Beings and that, therefore, they should impose their will anywhere at anytime. They view themselves as an Atlas, with the carrying of the weight of the world not a burden but their responsibility (including all the power that goes with it). Kings can't be democratic. This is why the Founding Fathers of the USA (see the Federalist Papers) created our system as they did. The recognized that power corrupts and power held too long created even more corruption. This is why the created term limits regarding how often an elected leader has to put himself up for re-election. Because the modern state has evolved into a system where much of the power devolves to staff, especially planners, who are not required to put themselves up for re-election, it is often staff persons who wield great power and influence.

When the notion that human beings are perfectable (see the 1970 book The Perfectibility of Man), takes hold, people holding the view often believe they have already achieved it. Too many people holding these views, beginning essentially in the 18th century, are rarely called to translate this idea into real terms of their lives, although they demand it of others and declare they know what is best for people, as if they were like potted plants and they the gardener. Obey the gardener and the garden will be great and sublime. Thus we saw the battles about and declarations of the "new Soviet man," the "new Aryan man," the "new Chinese man," etc. Those believing this see themselves as perfect and, therefore, incapable of wrong or error, as, if it is their thought or deed, it is OK, even if the deed goes against any version of what some like to call the "ten commandments" or other lists of acceptable behavior, as such list do not apply to them as they have transcended mere mortality.

In their pursuit of their idea of society's perfection, they believe they can eliminate suffering. The experiments to create the perfect societies withoug suffering cost hundeds of millions of lives in the Soviet Union and China alone. Too often the response to such horrors was that if that is what it took create the perfect socialist utopia, then so be it. Today, too many city planners have this notion. In the mean time, the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia and China have opted for a capitalist ecomomic system. The question for the world today is which kind of capitalism? Authoritarian capitalism (Russia, China), crony capitalism (South Korea, Japan), bureaucratic capitalism (Europe, Scandinavia), or democratic capitalism (the United States). As of this writing, Raul Castro awaits his brother Fidel's shufflingn off his mortal coil, at which time he will build casinos and resorts in Cuba, which will mean that the Castro era will be like a socialist Rip Van Winkle long sleep between the casinos and resorts of the Batista regime that Castro overthrew to the resorts and casinos of the regime that succeeds him. North Korea will soon go that way, leaving just one area on the planet living with those who see themselves as divine messengers, the Islamic countries of North Africa.

We believe that the Sermon on the Mount helps to explain how to deal with all of thisk taking the starting point the nature of human beings as they are, imperfect, not as they would like to be seen or see themselves, as perfect.

"PLANNING": UPDATED/EXPANDED a collaboration by Ron Edwards, community activist, and Peter Jessen. Jessen is also The Minneapolis Story web site web master/editor, and compiles/aggregates various theme groupings of columns, blog entries, and solution papers, and updates them as relevant new columns, blog entries, and solution papers apply.

To order The Minneapolis Story, through my eyes, and/or its follow-up, A Seat For Everyone, click here.

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at

Permission is granted to reproduce The Minneapolis Story columns, blog entires and solution papers. Please cite the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and for the columns. Please cite for blog entries and solution papers.

Home | All Solution Papers » | All Columns » | All Blogs »