It wouldn’t be possible without the partners working to plan the events, the volunteers greeting and welcoming their new neighbors, the coordination from Make It. MSP. team members Lauretta Jaye and Michelle Tran Maryns, or the support of GREATER MSP.
But, in reality, MSP Welcome Week is a project more than three years in the making. Hundreds of people built this radically welcoming movement by working in partnership. And while there are simply too many individual contributions to list, we want to say a collective thank you to each and every team member and volunteer who has worked to help facilitate thousands of connections.
Here are just a few of the many faces and stories behind this collaborative work.
Collaborative people made this work possible from the very beginning. Two amazing women who know what it’s like to be new in MSP, Moira Grosbard and Melanie Allen, facilitated a series of intimate dinner discussions with more than 50 recent arrivals. The themes of those discussions then informed a major ask to another 770 people who had relocated to the area in recent months and years.
We learned a great deal about the transition to MSP, whether from a neighboring state or halfway around the world. It turns out that new residents were pleasantly surprised by the incredible assets of our region and state, and overwhelmed with amazing information and resources. What they were in most need of was meaningful connections among peers.
These first conversations even spawned informal dinners and brunches among the participating newcomers, with some even volunteering to help build solutions.
Team members like Danielle Steer, Shannon Watson, Julie Cohen and Frank Alarcon helped organize newcomer meals. Thang Holt and Dalton Scott even hosted weekly coffee chats, while Kim Bartmann and Anne Saxton opened up space at neighborhood festivals.
Meanwhile, Make It. MSP. partners teamed up with amazing people working to welcome newcomers, like Jun-Li Wang, Ashley Hanson, Leu Solomon, and Jade Tittle of Saint Paul Hello, Mariano Garcia, Jalaal Madyun, and Darren Johnston of Break the Bubble, Jackie Grant of Cencup, and Raymond McCoy of TC Urban Professionals.
After months of building networks, the group joined forces, as Make It. MSP. launched the MSP Hello project with generous support from the Knight Foundation and a project plan spearheaded by team coordinator Alexis Yeboah.
An ever-growing partnership of folks representing companies, colleges and universities, visitors bureaus, community organizations, cultural institutions, and many other types of groups, have worked together on a monthly basis with leadership from Make It. MSP. Manager Tiffany Orth and a pair of amazing team captains who know what it’s like to relocate to MSP: first, Saby Labor, and now Michelle Tran Maryns.
MSP Welcome Week provides a glimpse at the community activity happening all year round. Each month, the MSP Hello team visits a new community in the region, from Woodbury to Saint Louis Park, and Eagan to Edina, newcomer meet ups are happening in local restaurants, breweries, parks, and more. Plus, each quarter MSP Hello teams up with institutions like the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Minnesota History Center, or Minnesota United FC to host a seasonally themed celebration.
Watch as MSP Hello partners continue to generate new ideas and solicit others from newcomers attending their events. A new peer-to-peer ambassador platform will debut this fall, and more projects are on the way. Stay up to date by subscribing to MSP Hello updates at makeitmsp.org/msp-hello.