I am Londel French, and I am running for Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner At-Large. In extraordinary times like these, Minneapolis has to focus on our neighborhoods and bringing people together. I am running for Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner At-Large for two reasons. First, because my experience working and living in Minneapolis has convinced me that we need a Commissioner who has the credibility to authentically engage our diverse communities and ensure our parks are serving all of us. Second, because my values drive me to work for justice for all. In today's Minneapolis, with its racial disparities, we must leverage every resource to make Minneapolis a livable city for every resident. #ParksPeoplePower
Minneapolis saved my life. When I left Milwaukee, Wisconsin and moved to Minneapolis in 1998, I was seeking a fresh start from a depressed community. I sought to escape the poverty and violence in the United States’ most highly incarcerated zip code 53206. In the 19 years that I’ve been living in Minneapolis, I have worked with the Park Board for 10 years in jobs as varied as recreation worker to running the summer lunch program. I have coached Adapted Floor Hockey. I have worked with students with disabilities for over 15 years, and have been a Minneapolis Public Schools union educator at South High and Harrison Education Center for 17 years.
I understand why it is so important to keep the promise of our neighborhood recreation centers as vibrant, well funded and programmed community centers. In times like these, Minneapolis has to focus on our neighborhoods and bringing people together. My priority will be in getting our kids and families into our neighborhood recreation centers, the backyards of our city.
My background and my passion make me uniquely qualified to represent the underrepresented members of our community in Minneapolis as a MPRB Commissioner At-Large. I will tirelessly work to increase access for all residents to have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and the important programming of our parks.
My students and neighbors have heightened my empathy for people affected by injustices in the Justice System. I have spent several years organizing for social and criminal justice reform from the ‘Justice For All’ initiative at TakeAction Minnesota, the Vote Yes for Kids Minneapolis Public Schools referendum campaign, and with the Office of Black Male Student Achievement.
My experiences with the our cities parks and schools, and social justice reform movement have developed my empathy, courage and strength to represent the underrepresented members of our community.
This is my promise to people of city of Minneapolis. #ParksPeoplePower
The Parks are the backyards of our neighborhoods, a place where youth and families can gather for birthdays and barbeques on weekends. Programming that is dynamic and moves beyond basketball and soccer leagues develops young leaders and empowers communities.
The Parks are more than green space, they are our unique shared public good. As a progressive advocate of social and economic justice, I bring a high standard for public-private partnerships. While I appreciate the additional resources private partners can bring, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board must reflect the values of our city in entering into agreements.
As an advocate for all communities, I will ensure our parks are equitably spending our resources and providing programming for communities in all parts of our city. I will listen to communities about what they want in their parks. It is the obligation of every Commissioner to ensure our parks serve all of our communities, not just the most well-connected.
As we move into the unknown of climate change, we know we must take action to make our city more resilient. I am calling for a Climate Action Plan to take action so our parks can help our city become carbon neutral and provide educational opportunities for residents who want to learn about climate action in our neighborhoods.
Our parks must constantly be finding ways to open our doors and bring more people into our parks. The people who live around and use our parks make our communities who we are. Young people who have their first sports experience at the parks. Elderly residents on a walk or playing with their grandchildren. People taking advantage of community education classes to learn a new skill. These and many more are the people who make our parks a community. When it comes to the future of our parks, these are the people I promise to turn to for guidance.
Recreation workers are on the frontline for what happens in our communities. They prevent crisis and tragedy and are impacted directly when things go wrong in a neighborhood. I will support these workers and encourage them to advocate for living wages and more opportunities for advancement. I have seen the impact of the Minneapolis Public Schools Grow Your Own program and believe we can provide professional pathways to park workers of color.
Minneapolis is home to one of the most unique national urban park systems of our country. It is an awesome responsibility to govern this system, and I will do so from a perspective that is focused on racial, economic, gender and social justice and being a good steward of this important resource. I promise to stand up to corporate power that seeks to profit from public goods with no public benefit. I will stand up and demand that environmental justice goes beyond which types of fertilizer we use in the parks, but also focuses on the racial and gender impact to our communities.
As a black man running for office, I have been the victim of police brutality. I have fought for years to reform our Justice System with allies in the community. The Parks are home to an independent police force. This force is an opportunity to use new ideas for how policing can engage our communities. Specifically, I will work to ensure that the Minneapolis Park Police to use methods of restorative justice, mandate extensive trauma informed policing training, and seek to partner with other governmental agencies to provide services to those in need who are identified by the MPRB PD.
Join me and let's fight to keep a promise to the People of Minneapolis. #ParksPeoplePower