Northside Oral History

This project centers the stories of residents who have lived in the Penn/Plymouth area for decades.

The Northside Oral History Project – a community-based project that centers the stories of residents who have lived in the Penn/Plymouth area of North Minneapolis over the last 50 years. Through this work, the City’s Division of Race & Equity elevates the stories of resistance and resilience that have made the community what it is. The purpose of this project is to build greater trust and understanding between community residents and City staff and in so doing, build the capacity to create asset-based systems change.

There were two distinct phases of this project:

  • Phase 1: We worked with 4000 More Creative we captured the stories of 90 community elders. We recently concluded this phase as of April 2019. We extend appreciation and gratitude to our partners who made this success possible: Oak Park - Pillsbury United Communities, Masjid An Nur, Liberty Community Church, and Northside Residents Redevelopment Council.
  • Phase 2: We invited organizations and other applicable entities to design an art project that will tell these stories creatively. Projects could include: an exhibit, a mural, a teaching curriculum, a performance, music, or place-making feature. We intend on selecting up to 3 artists for this phase with budgets up to $25,000.

Through a community based, participatory voting process, four artists have been selected to turn stories collected from 90 community residents into art projects. Those artists included:

  • Bully Creative (docuseries)
  • Charles Caldwell (mural)
  • Franklin Middle School (mural)
  • McFarlane Media Interests (multimedia)

Northside Oral History- 2018 Stories

Northside Oral History- 2019 Stories

Details on final projects
Show response

Artist: Bully Creative


We will create multiple large-scale North Minneapolis location place-making exhibition with accompanying teaching curriculum. We will create performance art pieces based on the 90 resident stories, then film and edit those performances and project those performances, 20 feet high, on the outside of prominent landmarks and from the inside of business and windows on commercial corridors throughout North Minneapolis. 

The movie projection will serve as a large-scale sharing of these stories with all the community, anyone who can be on these streets in North Minneapolis can engage in the stories, the audience is not confined by a theater or a gallery or a public meeting space. Northside is outside.

We will document the process of development and create a 5 min documentary film about the project and process. We will create a high school level curriculum based on the teaching curriculum developed by D.A. Bullock during his time at HECUA.

Medium: Curated performances of oral histories and project those films on the walls of buildings – film/video media arts and performing arts. 

Artist: Charles Caldwell

Project name: The Our Future is in our Past Mural

Charles will host several visioning sessions. The 90 storytellers, interviewees, City Staff and other key community leaders will be invited to create vision boards of the future North Minneapolis. Tables and chairs will be arranged with magazines pictures and symbols for participant to use to create a vision board. A vision board is any sort of board on which you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your community. Participant will gather images, symbols and phrases from magazines and printed material and place them on hard cardboard squares that describe: 

  • What they want in North Minneapolis? 
  • What North Minneapolis needs? 
  • What are the values of North Minneapolis? 
  • How will the people who live in North Minneapolis live, work and play. 

The unveiling of Charles Caldwell’s mural for the Northside Oral History will take place at NorthPoint Health & Wellness. The image reflects the things that matter most including the joy, love, and happiness as a result of being with family, friends, and community. The mural is inspired by the words of community elders, including Caldwell, who have been a part of the community for the last 50 years. Staff from the Division of Race & Equity, Council Member Jeremiah Ellison and Charles Caldwell will be present.

Artist: Franklin Middle School

Project Name: Northside Generations Speak

Led by artist Melodee Strong, Franklin Middle School students will use the words from the elders to create large scale illustration(s) created and designed by students at Franklin Middle School. The mural(s) will be painted by students, family and staff at Franklin as well as with other community members, local law enforcement, and city workers.

Students will help design the project and determine if the project should be one large scale mural or a series of smaller ones installed at many locations. By connecting Northside youth with Northside adults and elders we empower youth in creating a permanent art fixture within their neighborhoods and community by allowing them to have a voice and contribute to the legacy of North Minneapolis. They are adding their mark in history that will be appreciated and loved for generations to come. 

Artists: McFarlane Media Interests and Juxtaposition Arts

Project Name: Northside Oral History Project: Shared History

Utilizing the original audio recordings of the Northside Oral History Project, McFarlane Media Interests (MMI), Juxtaposition Arts and Insight News staff created a multi faceted campaign to share the stories of N. Minneapolis residents gathered by ReCAST Minneapolis in 2019. Our project goal was to utilize the full capacity of MMI community and media partnerships to amplify the voices of over 30 resident participants in the project. We included articles, original artwork, created by students at partner Juxtaposition Arts, a multimedia website portal all supported by a mass media campaign (social media, print distribution, radio / virtual interviews and more) facilitated by MMI partners. Viewers and readers can listen to the interviews to gain better insight on who are the participants, their lives in North Minneapolis over a +30 year period and their hopes and dreams for their community. Our efforts culminated in reaching over 60,000 people who now have access to this rich shared content.

We hope to create a bridge of communication and understanding between elders / residents of North Minneapolis and youth who are now on the front lines fighting for social justice and better opportunities. Through sharing across multimedia platforms we are preserving the life and histories of a culturally rich and diverse community with much to share with future generations. This will be part of the new blueprint for sharing oral histories and their meaningfulness from communities of color to the masses.

To experience the completed project, please visit the Voices from ReCAST website.

Contact us

Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging




City Hall
350 S. 5th St, Room 223
Minneapolis, MN 55415