A longtime supporter of East Phillips, Dean founded DJR Architecture in 1985 in the East Phillips Neighborhood with an emphasis on affordable housing and community development. Dean continues to evolve the firm into a broad based provider of architectural services while still playing an active role in the development of the Phillips neighborhood. This includes the Phillips Community Aquatic Center, East Phillips Community Center, the Bii Di Gain Dash Anwebi Elder housing, and many others. At EPNI, Dean is the architect and planner for the future East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm. He coordinates with public officials, community groups, residents, and investors to develop the site per East Phillips community needs. As an activist, Dean is passionate about saving the Roof Depot building and prioritizing communities of color in the development of the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm. Dean received his Bachelor of Architecture and Environmental Design from the University of Minnesota and his Master of Architecture and Urban Design from Harvard University. He is part of the the American Institute of Architecture, LEED Accredited Professional, and NCARB.
Clarence is the founder of Blue Water Farms and a community organizer who is focused on sustainability. He is currently one of the founders and president of the Minnesota Aquaculture Association. He serves as secretary of EPNI, and is leading the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm high-tech aquaponics development. His broad experiences include developing a farmers market, a community food cooperative, and multiple Natural Step study groups. Clarence has sustainably operated businesses that include Vasa Gardens, a market farm, and Cardinal Hardwoods, a supplier of forest products and custom woodworking services for contractors. Prior to his leadership in the sustainability field, Clarence was a Human Services professional, providing supervisory and staff development to public and higher education organizations. He holds a BS in Sociology and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
Chad Hebert started the Urban Farm Project with the belief that there is a need to build sustainable food systems that are available to all people while also protecting the planet. For the last 10 years, Chad has grown the Urban Farm project, successfully raising more than 30,000 pounds of yellow perch and 50,000 pounds of vegetables. Chad has participated in a cooperative research agreement with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Science and is involved in a number of aquaponic projects at the Women’s Environmental Institute. His work has already helped establish new regulations within Minneapolis to allow for increased urban farming. At EPNI, Chad is coordinating and implementing a large-scale aquaponics operation for the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm project that will provide locally grown, fresh vegetables and fish for the community throughout the year. Chad also leads the Little Earth’s Urban Farm Youth Program, where local youths are given hands-on education in growing and harvesting vegetables and Native plant medicines.
Cassandra (Niiwin Muck-Wa Ikwe – Four Bears Woman) was born and raised in East Phillips at Little Earth and is part of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe. Motivated by the love for her community, Cassandra is a passionate and accomplished activist fighting for Indigenous rights and environmental justice. After losing her eldest son, Trinidad, as a result of toxic pollution in East Phillips, Cassandra is doing everything she can to stop the destruction of the Roof Depot building. At EPNI, Cassandra facilitates our Indigenous community engagement and at our meetings, she always speaks from the heart with her community in mind. She also oversees Little Earth’s Urban Farm Youth Program, where local youths are given hands-on education in growing and harvesting vegetables and Native plant medicines. Always on the go, Cassandra also coordinates Safe Communities of United Tribes (SCOUT) in an effort to strengthen Indigenous community relations with police, reduce neighborhood crime, and empower our next generation of leaders. Cassandra recently graduated from Minneapolis College and her courageous, outspoken, and uplifting attitude make her a vital part of both the East Phillips and Little Earth communities.
Abah is the founder and executive director of South East Homes (SEH), the first East African focused program in North America specializing in chemical dependency and mental health. SEH serves Minneapolis’ Somali community by providing health services such as trauma-informed therapy, drug abuse prevention programs, and family support. Wanting to bring awareness to the challenges East Africans face, Abah has helped hundreds of individuals by providing resources and a supportive cultural community for their recovery journey. SEH hires ethnic minority youth and young adults in the East Phillips Neighborhood, including those recovering from addiction, to provide training and career advancement opportunities. At EPNI, Abah is facilitating the East African community outreach and educating her community on urban farming practices, sustainability, and green industries. Additionally, she is working on developing Somali business startups in conjunction with the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm project.
Carlos grew up in East Phillips and continues to make the neighborhood his home. He is interested in getting local youths involved in environmental justice and sustainability practices. Carlos is shedding light on Minneapolis’s racial health disparities and is advocating for reduced pollution in East Phillips. He loves that East Phillips is the City’s most diverse neighborhood, which should be recognized rather than polluted or gentrified. At EPNI, Carlos is facilitating Latinx community engagement and researching how to create at-home aquaponics kits and educational resources for East Phillips. He hopes that his community can learn how to grow vegetables and fruits from their own homes, which will increase healthy food accessibility. Carlos feels fortunate serving his neighborhood and is excited for the future East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm.
For the last 30 years, Carol has dedicated her life to improving the East Phillips neighborhood. Alongside her husband Brad, Carol has raised her children, foster parented, overseen housing developments, monitored crime control, mentored youth, and managed neighborhood beautification all within East Phillips. Carol began as a housing board member on the People of Phillips before creating the East Phillips Improvement Coalition, where she spearheaded the East Phillips Park Cultural & Community Center and many affordable housing developments. She served on the East Phillips Commons Redevelopment, Village in Phillips Redevelopment, EPIC Community of Care, Bloomington/Cedar/Lake Commercial Association, East Phillips Housing, Bloomington Ave. Citizen's Patrol, High Lake Guidelines Committee, and currently, EPNI. As a former philosophy instructor at the University of Minnesota, Augsburg, and Bethel colleges, Carol is a driven human rights and environmental activist. She has worked tirelessly to stop additional polluting industries from entering East Phillips and raised millions of dollars for the community. Carol’s overriding mission has always been to prevent more pollution from radically damaging the already health challenged, low-income community and reduce existing pollution in East Phillips.
Steve has owned his home in East Phillips for over 13 years, but has actually lived near East Lake Street the past 40 years. A talented musician, Steve plays trombone, repairs instruments, plays in multiple bands, and has led his band in the Mayday Parade for 40 years. Steve has been a neighborhood activist and community organizer for decades, supporting racial and environmental justice in East Phillips. He is focused on reducing harmful pollution in East Phillips and growing community participation in local government. Steve has served on the EPNI board for three years. He is excited to be a part of the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm project, which will create affordable and environmentally sensitive housing, year round organic food production, green jobs, and entrepreneurial training for local youth. It will be an inclusive space on our Greenway, where all cultural groups are welcome to gather and share their history, art, and food traditions. Steve is especially focused on creating a community plan that reduces pollution in the currently overburdened East Phillips neighborhood.