The History Harvest Is Step One

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 1:50 PM
Delaware Suite B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Rebecca Wingo, Macalester College
The History Harvest is a great entry point into richer community partnerships. It became the first step to a longer partnership between Macalester College and Rondo Avenue, Inc. (RAI), the governing council of the Rondo neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota. Rondo is a historically African-American community intentionally bifurcated by the construction of I-94, the interstate connecting the Twin Cities, in the late 1950s. Some Rondo residents fought back through lawsuits; some were forcibly removed from their homes by police; and some accepted the poor compensation for their homes and moved away. The anger, grief, and trauma caused by the highway still lie close to the surface. RAI has implored the city for more than 30 years to “Remember Rondo!” In July 2015, the Mayor of Saint Paul issued an apology to the Rondo community, but RAI’s work doesn’t end there. They are involved in a building a community plaza, claiming their history, and petitioning the Department of Transportation to put a lid over the interstate. Since I began working with RAI in 2016, five classes in American Studies, Environmental Studies, Geography, and History have all contributed to RAI’s mission. The first of these classes? Well, that was the History Harvest. It became the cornerstone for building stronger connections between the campus and the community. The civically-engaged, experiential classrooms have attracted students and recruited more history majors. RAI has also become one of our employment opportunities for Work-Study students. For Macalester, the History Harvest proved to RAI that our partnership was worthwhile, and we haven’t looked back.