For more than a decade, the Southeast Como Improvement Association (SECIA) has been privileged to have an amazing contingent of volunteers working on Como’s community approved Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) plans. It has been through the efforts of community members and staff that we have been able to implement most of Como’s NRP stated goals and objectives - some with results that exceeded even volunteer’s expectations.
In particular, SECIA’s Environment Committee’s visionary members chose to take on ambitious projects and made the critical but risky decision to hire staff utilizing some of their NRP funds. It was at this point – 12 years ago - that Justin Eibenholzl was hired as the City’s only neighborhood based Environmental Coordinator to tackle their first project – air quality - which resulted in three Good Neighbor agreements with local industries. This decision by the committee not only helped SECIA implement Como’s NRP plan, but also helped SECIA realize one of the fundamental requirements of a City recognized neighborhood organization – to encourage community residents to become more involved in their neighborhood. Over the years, the Environment Committee’s efforts have engaged hundreds of volunteers in single projects or on-going commitments and empowered in a variety of Como residents – young and old – renter and homeowner.
The newly hired staff along with the passion and vision that engaged residents bring helped SECIA leverage hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional funding for community directed projects over the past decade. It helped develop and create programming that not only served the members of this community, but in some cases served other southeast residents and improved the health and well-being of the region.
Awards and Recognitions
Unfortunately, the City of Minneapolis’ dismantling of the NRP program with the resulting reductions and changes in City funding along with changes in grantor’s priorities, lack of funding from other sources and an emphasis on funding only very small cost projects has taken their toll on SECIA’s ability to continue with the current level of programming. In discussion with SECIA’s Executive Committee, the Environment Committee’s Chair and the Environment Committee a decision was made to close the position of the Environmental Coordinator – a position filled since its inception by Justin Eibenholzl. Justin’s last day will be Friday May 3rd, 2013.
SECIA’s Environment Committee will continue to work on its priorities with the resources remaining and they hope that further funding or other grant opportunities will become available in the future to enable SECIA to bring Justin back to the organization he has helped shape. However, until or unless those funds can be found, SECIA will be operating under greatly reduced capacity. Given all the current goals, activities and projects; our committees, board and community partners’ expectations will have to be adjusted accordingly.
In the meantime, please support us in thanking Justin for his vision, hard work and perseverance on some truly amazing projects that helped build Como’s positive reputation and put us in the local and even national spotlight for our resident’s environmental leadership.