By Laura Oyen 7-27-2023
Over the past year the Como Neighborhood History Project has been fortunate to work with students and staff in collaboration with the St. Kate’s Welcoming the Dear Neighbor? (WTDN?) Project. WTDN? is an interdisciplinary team of faculty, staff, students and community members which began in 2017 as a collaboration between St. Catherine University and Mapping Prejudice. There are selected courses at St. Kate’s that intertwine the work of WTDN? with courses such as “Art and Technology“ which introduces students to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
One of the student’s assignments involved:
“connecting what they learned through source material regarding the legacy of racial covenants and redlining and making connections to a neighborhood in St. Paul.“
District 10 Como Neighborhood History Project has been a community partner for this class by putting some faces in front of the students where they can ask questions and present their work for possible future use by both organizations. Assistant Professor Bethany Rahn and Professor Todd Deutsch worked with students over the 2022-2023 school year to create a “visual response” to the complicated question asked above. Students could create anything from a poster, web graphic, billboard, animation or something else! We were fortunate to see all of these products through the creativity of the student’s work. Students worked hard to demonstrate how the Como Neighborhood is trying to care for all its neighbors and the environment. Here are a couple of examples of the work completed by the Professor Deutsch’s Fall 2022 class.
Postcard created by: Joy Moua 12-13-2022
Student Reflection: My first illustration makes the audience question what is going on. Why are there so many white houses? The postcard, at first glance, is simple and bold. But taking a deeper look into it, it tells the story of racial covenants, another form of housing discrimination against Black Americans and other people of color. Traditionally, red doors symbolize a welcoming attitude, but in this case, red symbolizes stop, no, and danger. While it is essential for District 10 to acknowledge and inform the people of its racist history, it can also rebuild the community by illuminating the cultural events in District 10.
Poster/Banner created by: Gissel Calles Rios 12/13/2022
Student Reflection: While looking at the Como Park website it was very evident that there are a lot of initiatives, programs, and events that many people have become involved in. I can tell that the community is passionate and caring about these initiatives. I focused on Como blood drives, because donation drives have always caught my attention and I look forward to donating one day as well. I think that donation drives are important as there is evidence about how many lives are impacted. The page itself is very informative, and all information is relevant to someone who would want to donate or learn more but the page itself lacked color. This is why I focused on making a banner that would bring attention to this page and would appeal to the audience.
Billboard created by: Iyat Al-Jayashi 12/6/2022
Student Reflection: What did you learn about the role of art in social change? I learned that Art has a huge role in social change. People lean towards art and the brain is a magnificent machine that takes everything it sees and actually stores it that causes slow change in mindset and actions. Art encourages people in many ways, whether it be music or just paintings or anything really.
On May 16th the Spring Art and Technology class taught by Professor Rahn displayed their work as part of their final project presentations. Darlene Kunze and I were pleased to be invited to this event. Darlene commented that “it was fascinating to see and hear about the projects that each young woman had chosen related to District 10’s mission and activities. The projects were creative and very diverse, but all demonstrated insight into our Como community”. We look forward to our continued work with these young scholars and hope to share all of their work with the community in the near future.
WTDN focuses the students through selected course work to consider the following questions:
- Did we welcome the dear neighbor in Ramsey County regardless of race in the past?
- How have we demonstrated care for our dear neighbor in Ramsey County regardless of race in the present?
- If we didn’t welcome the dear neighbor historically, what do we do about this in the present?
These questions align strongly with District 10’s Mission Statement:
We connect and empower each other, creating a compassionate community, courageously addressing injustices of the past and present, and forging a bold and inclusive future.
Do you know some interesting history about your home, your neighbor or about the Como neighborhood? Anyone is welcome to do an interview, share historic photos or do a write up for the Know Your Como segment of our newsletter! For more information on how to submit go to our Know Your Como page.