Last September 20th, the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) took center-stage as it celebrated its second annual Community Day with an Open House event in North Minneapolis.
To a background of live music, and over refreshments provided by community-based businesses, visitors had the opportunity to interact with the university and community partners involved in UROC’s research and outreach programs, which include early childhood education, community-wide computer training, youth entrepreneurship, smoking cessation, and obesity research.
Other activities included cookery demonstrations by U of M Extension’s Simply Good Eating program, free health screenings by the Center for Health Equity (CHE), and drop-in computer classes with trainers from the Broadband Access Project (BAP). The event also offered the chance to sample basil ice cream developed by the U of M Arboretum’s Urban Garden Youth Employment Program, a UROC-based project.
Additionally, award-winning documentary filmmaker Daniel Pierce Bergin offered a sneak peek of the upcoming University of Minnesota/TPT documentary “Cornerstones: Stories of Place on the North Side”. Following this, visitors were able to record personal memories of life in North Minneapolis.
The day also marked the opening of “Profiles in Partnership”, a photographic exhibition in UROC’s gallery comprised of large-frame portraits of community and university research-outreach partners, including North Point Health and Wellness CEO Stella Whitney West and UROC Executive Director Heidi Lasley Barajas, Sabathani Community Center Manager Bob Lay and BAP Apprentice Hawa Omar, De La Salle High School Sophomore Demarjoin Murry and CHE Director Dr. Jasjit Ahluwalia, and Harrison Neighborhood Association President Maren McDonell and Center for Urban and Regional Affairs Coordinator Jeff Corn.
The Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center is an initiative of the university’s Office of the Senior Vice President for System Academic Administration, and links the university with urban communities in a vital public partnership to advance learning, improve quality of life and discover breakthrough solutions to critical urban problems. After touring UROC’s collaborative research facility and meeting Northside residents and community leaders at a reception, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler praised the center, saying it had become “a model for excellence” in the engagement of a major research university with its community.