The Seward Garden Tour kicked off its annual garden tour and tea party this past ast June 20th. For someone used to 40 story high rises, and only meeting my neighbors for awkward rides down the elevator, seeing a community get-together so successfully making neighbor get together comes as welcome shock. Joggers, bikers, and mid-day strollers today can see a cornucopia of beautiful gardens scattered across the neighborhood. The ones who have been out and about during the day these past few weeks have also have seen the homeowners frantically weeding, watering, planting, and replanting their yards with the fervor of protective parents fussing over their children. But the real achievement isn't all the greenery, it's the social event of the summer.
Every year for 7 years members of the Seward Neighborhood have preened and honed their gardens to immaculacy yes for the bragging rights (let’s be real), but also to achieve the goals that the Seward Neighborhood Group have set forth in their group goals.
"The goal of Seward Neighborhood Group is to foster a community where neighbors know each other, children can visit friends a few blocks away without fear, going for a walk is a social activity and chatting over the fence is a common activity: a neighborhood where diversity is celebrated and supported. We want to support and create a business district that is supported by all members of the community, create a main street that is vibrant and safe, even after dark. We want to create a community where physical movement is expected and easy, where biking and walking are used for transportation as often as vehicles are. SNG envisions a neighborhood where there is a true mingling of all our diverse communities.”
The SNG has existed since the 1960s unifying a community grown from immigrant and working class families brought in by rapid expansion in the city of Minneapolis since its founding in 1956. The group has recently updated its strategic plan to incorporate its four core values: Inclusiveness, Engagement, Sustainability, Community Improvement/Infrastructure. Every single one of these values today stands as a direct contradiction to the direction our country and society seem to be headed (if newspaper headlines are to be believed). In a climate of distrust and anger directed against immigrants, LGBT individuals, and minorities of the world over, I for one found the scene of friendly neighbors from all backgrounds and demographics strolling the neighborhood, admiring each other’s green thumbs, and doing something as banal as having a cup of tea together – truly a breath of fresh air.
Lucky for me, my neighbors were bemused by my toy-like drone and allowed me to film the occasion flying around their tulips and buzzing around their guests heads like a particularly angry swarm of mosquitoes. The result is a video I recently uploaded to Youtube linked below.
In it you'll see Minnesotans at their best - a community striving to make the world a little smaller with a serving of humble green thumb bragging, some summer snackies, and a healthy dose of Minnesota Nice.