By Matt Johnson
Continuing the analysis of the North Minneapolis system and its dichotomy with the rest of the Minneapolis system, the City of Minneapolis Geographical Information System provides some much needed and useful data. As the reader will notice, there is an obvious discrepancy of vacant and Condemned buildings in North Minneapolis compared to the rest of the city. Here is the link: Vacant and Condemned Properties.
This grouping of vacant and condemned housing may help explain some of North Minneapolis’ continued discrepancies in unemployment, education, health, and crime. There are of course other consequences that occur because of the environment that urban decay helps to facilitate, but these are the most recognizable and easily understood.
In systems science, we call this striking grouping a spatial pattern. As the reader can see, the spatial pattern has a fairly well-defined boundary of the group itself and it is fairly constricted to North Minneapolis (here is an article to refresh your memory on boundaries). Obviously, there are other vacant and condemned buildings in Minneapolis, but these are fairly spread out through the city and the other groups of vacant and condemned buildings are less pronounced in both numbers and concentration.
Why is this important? In the future, it will help provide quantitative information to the Minneapolis system, specifically the North Minneapolis system and its environment. This quantitative information will allow a systems scientist (mainly your writer) to view the interactions taking place in the environment of the system; for example, what type of effect do vacant and condemned buildings have on the economic system? Is it depressing (or making harder for) cash flow into the system?
To test this idea philosophically, I will pose a question for you the reader. Do you think vacant and condemned buildings help the economy of North Minneapolis, or do you think they hurt the economy? Intuitively (instinctively), I imagine that you would say that it hurts the economy and I imagine you think the question I pose is a silly question. Sometimes the silly questions are the most prudent in science and mathematics. Why does an apple fall?
Let me ask this question another way. Pretend you are a real estate developer and you are looking to invest some money. Do you invest in an area that not only has the highest rate of vacant and condemned buildings, but also the highest rate foreclosures and presumably the highest unemployment rate in the city of Minneapolis? My presumption is that North Minneapolis has the highest unemployment rate because it has the highest concentration of non-dominant residents (African Americans). According to recent Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate of the non-dominant group is almost three times higher than that of the dominant group, i.e., “whites.”
Another consequence of this happenstance is the attractiveness of that part of the city. In other words, urban decay will not attract businesses and thus will not attract potential immigrant workers (labor and management from other cities and states). System scientists do not use the term immigrant the same way as those who participate in journalism or political debate.
I must stress once again, and I will continue to do so, that North Minneapolis is not a bad place. It is a beautiful place with a lot of potential. I realize that it has this negative reputation amongst the other residents of Minneapolis, but this does not mean that it does not have good people who work hard and push forward day and day out. On the contrary, your writer has a history with North Minneapolis in both the experience of living and playing youth football there. It is precisely for these reasons I see North Minneapolis in a different light.
North Minneapolis is filled with caring and hard working people. It is diverse and it is place where all people are welcomed. It also deserves better from the city government. The children of North Minneapolis deserve better as well. I have long believed that the next Albert Einstein or Mae C. Jemison will come from North Minneapolis. It is just a matter of that young boy or girl being provided the opportunity to show such skills. But in the mean time, I will continue to investigate, construct, and research the system of Minneapolis in hopes of finding dynamical solutions for policy that will help raise North Minneapolis both economically and politically to the level of the rest of Minneapolis.
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