Rebuilding Neighborhoods | In the most disadvantaged neighborhoods of the Twin Cities, Urban Homeworks focuses the combined resources of individuals, churches, businesses, government entities and other nonprofits to transform foreclosed, condemned or boarded properties into dignified, quality places to live.
“Can I get a book?” rings out to E. as she sits on her front porch. The voices are animated, eager, and a bright light as she realizes that her Little Free Library is doing exactly what she hoped for.
Little Free Libraries, curbside boxes housing books, operate by a simple philosophy: take a book, return a book. The program partnered with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) in 2012 to create “Books Around the Block,” with a goal to establish 100 neighborhood book exchanges in strategic areas of Minneapolis.
UHW home owners Courtney & Taya, along with several UHW staff members, are all eagerly awaiting install, while UHW’s property on Elliot Avenue became the very first rental property to boast a LFL in the organization’s history.
“My kids wanted to read all the books,” E. said. “I don’t have to ask them if they want to, they just go find what they want to read!” As a UHW home owner, she recognizes the support that can come from being rooted in your home and community and hoped to meet and build relationships with her neighbors using her LFL as a conversation piece.
Within weeks, POD’s have adopted the “take a book, leave a book” attitude. One family pulled up to her curb, their 6 year old daughter leading the pack, bound and determined to get new books. E.’s son jumped down from the stoop and hoisted his new friend up to the library so she could make the best selection. As she carefully returned books, her younger brothers shouted their picks for the next round of reads. On installation day, a neighbor she hadn’t met before noticed the activity and came over, sharing with her that he works at a library. He is now regularly dropping by, keeping her stocked with books. Other neighbors have anonymously left boxes of books on her step, asking nothing in return.
Now when E. hears, “Can I get a book?” she knows it isn’t a question to be passed over. It is a step closer to closing education, community, and relationship gaps on her street. It is one step closer to Rebuilding Neighborhoods.
Visit littlefreelibrary.org for more information or to get your own Little Free Library.