For the past eleven years Gayle Bonneville has been the sparkplug, the glue and the institutional memory of my Windom Park neighborhood. Two afternoons a week she’s posted on Lowry and Stinson where I have spent hundreds of hours waiting for the bus, reading the many messages neatly posted in the window, and wondering about who keeps the neighborhood on an even keel. Now I know that it is Gayle Bonneville who manages to split her busy days between Windom Park and West St. Anthony neighborhoods, keeping a wide swath of Northeast Minneapolis informed, in touch, and, above all, engaged. No easy task for this diminutive woman who somehow manages to balance two active nonprofits at the same time she energizes the neighborhoods and reaches out as an active denizen of several social media networks.
Windom Park Citizens in Action (WPCIA) is an independent nonprofit that is the city-designated organization for this Northeast Minneapolis neighborhood. It is also the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) contracting organization for the Windom Park neighborhood. Working with a nine-member board and committees Gayle steers a steady course helping residents to identify neighborhood needs, plan and implement solutions, and enhance the quality of life for neighborhood residents.
Gayle is adamant in her insistence that it is the neighbors who make the decisions that shape the community. An ardent believer in grassroots engagement Gayle spends much of her precious time informing and involving the community at large. Monthly neighborhood meetings, announced broadly online and by postcard, draw a healthy mix of concerned neighbors. Increasingly Gayle is turning to social media to share the word. A striking example of Windom Park’s participatory environment is a recent survey of the neighborhood, conducted online and on paper, in English and Spanish. Residents were queried about a broad range of imminent and long-tern options; at this time the board is delving through the returns to present the results and the challenge of decision-making to the membership. Though drastic cuts in NRP funding render those decisions painful at best Gayle insists the tough choices will be made by the neighbors not staff or board.
Currently, Gayle is working with WPCIA’s Community Land Use and Planning committee, NRP, and a mix of home improvement and security loan programs. As a concerned citizen volunteer she continues to grapple with future development of Shoreham Yards – a political, environmental, legal and regulatory quagmire that would fell a lesser mortal
To contact Gayle with questions or suggestions, email email@example.com, For a listing of board, committee and task force members, meetings and responsibilities, check the Windom Park website – better yet, volunteer to serve. Watch your mailbox and e-list for notices of WPCIA meetings – sign up for e-mail notices here. The next WPCIA meeting is set for Tuesday, August 16, 7-9 p.m., Pillsbury School Annex, 2551 Hayes – free parking, treats, child care upon request, a chance to learn and have your say about the future of our neighborhood!