Burglaries, assault and other violent crimes were rampant, and with many new residents coming from the tough inner cities of Chicago and Gary, IN, there was no end to the cycle in sight.
With Park Nicollet acting as the fiscal agent—and with support from the city and school district—the collaborative's goal was to empower residents by offering safe and fun activities for children, and useful resources for adults.
“It was really a new thing anywhere,” said coordinator Linda Trummer.
Trummer started that first year. A longtime St. Louis Park resident, she had lived in the Meadowbrook Neighborhood in the 1970s and saw firsthand what was going on.
"I was seeing people crawling through windows with guns. My car was stolen," she said. “I really wanted to come back and do something.”
The collaborative was initially pitched to Trummer as a six- to 18-month project. She said the task at hand was large and complex.
“I always describe it like I was thrown in a hole and asked to find my way out,” she said. “I had no experience in this.”
Trummer decided that her main focus would be children, as she thought the collaborative could have the most impact with them. In the first year, parks and recreation programming was brought into the neighborhood. Over the years, more and more programming has been added, for various age levels.
The collaborative also focused on safety right away, as a police officer was brought in specifically to serve the neighborhood. A cop is no longer assigned to Meadowbrook, but Trummer works frequently with a liaison officer, hoping to foster a good relationship between the neighborhood and the police department.
As a result, crime has come down significantly in the area. While in years past the neighborhood would lead St. Louis Park in violent crime, the last six years have seen Meadowbrook consistently fall outside the five most dangerous neighborhoods.
And the total number of violent crimes has continued to drop. Between 2005 and 2010, the annual totals were: 66, 44, 36, 22, 22 and 44.
All the while, the collaborative has continued chugging along, going from a short-term project to a long-term solution. Funding is a challenge every year, but Trummer said the collaborative has generally been stable. The current budget is around $105,000 annually. Last year, the collaborative raised 60 percent of that total, while the Park Nicollet Foundation contributed the rest.
"I think it has been somewhat of a miracle,” Trummer said, referencing Mayor Jeff Jacobs' "Meadowbrook Miracle" tagline. "We've managed to find funding and grow support."
This month, Trummer hopes to garner even more community support. August is "Meadowbrook Collaborative Awareness Month," with an official kickoff coming on Tuesday during the neighborhood's National Night Out celebration.
“We really want to increase awareness and let people know that even though we’re connected to three large organizations, all the funds we raise is soft money," Trummer said. “We have to start over every year.”
Trummer said every dollar counts, and noted that many donors give $15-20 annually. She said she encourages local groups to think of fun ways to raise money for the collaborative, such as a bake sale or a rollerskating party at the .
The support, Trummer said, is what allows the Meadowbrook Collaborative to be the miracle that it is.
“Please be a partner," she said. "We need the help.”
For more on the Meadowbrook Collaborative, visit its website