Sister Cities Learning Tour

Inspiration & Innovation:

Equity and Community Change from the Ground Up!

“Sister Cities” Learning Tour along the Mississippi River - Minneapolis to Memphis

October 1-3, 2014

Organized by NFG’s Working Group on Place-Based Community Change

Join us in Minneapolis, Minnesota to experience a vibrant hub of positive transformation where people, place and opportunity are coming together to create change.  We will feature community-driven projects, programs and strategies that link community development, community health and creative place-making. We will also engage in a cultural and community development exchange with our “sister city” of Memphis, Tennessee to learn about concrete innovative approaches and practices.  Expect to be inspired by representatives from both cities who will highlight cross-sector partnerships that include engaged residents, community organizations, funders and public officials that are advancing equity in real time. 

The goals of this tour are to:

  • Experience an engaging cultural and community development exchange by showcasing complementary place-based strategies;
  • Understand the connections between community development, community health, and creative place-making;
  • Highlight the role of individual artists as leaders and essential partners in creating resilient communities;
  • Begin building longstanding cross city peer relationships

By engaging funders across sectors with practitioners grounded in community, we seek to inform our collective grantmaking, placemaking, and community engagement work with a shared commitment to use all of our assets and work together to create a better whole.

Funders and practitioners will meet new partners in this work and learn about concrete innovative approaches and practices that offer replication potential across locations.

Please register for the tour in the form below. 

We will arrive the evening of Wednesday, October 1 and eat dinner as a group. The learning tour will begin early morning Thursday, October 2 and close early afternoon on Friday, October 3. Write to us at with any questions. Please plan to attend the entire tour. Hotel information and more detailed agenda information is below.

Hosts & Sponsors:  ArtPlace America, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, Community LIFT, McKnight Foundation, Neighborhood Funders Group, and the Northside Funders Group


Hotel Information  

We will be staying at the Aloft Hotel. To make a reservation, call the hotel at 1-888-627-7079, and request a room in the NFG block. NFG is holding hotel rooms at the special group rate. Please contact us directly at in order to reserve your room at the group rate of $129 per night.

Our hotel is conveniently located a few blocks away from the Light Rail which runs from the airport to downtown Minneapolis. 

Agenda Overview           
Over the course of the convening we will have interactive conversations with Minneapolis and Memphis community organizations: Among other things, the agenda will feature the following topics and presenters.
Wednesday, October 1 (time tbd)
Dinner together at local restaurant
Thursday, October 2, 8:00am – 7:00pm
Setting the Stage:  Memphis and Minneapolis

  • Eric Robertson, President, Community LIFT, Memphis
  • Erik Takeshita, Deputy Director, Twin Cities LISC

Let’s Talk Transit: Community Engagement: Community Voice & Creative Place Making
Repa Mekha, President & CEO, Nexus Community Partners, Minneapolis

  • Emily Trenholm, Executive Director, Community Development Council (Livable Memphis and IOBY Program)
  • Laura Zabel, Executive Director, Spring Board for the Arts, St. Paul

Jobs and Homes for All: Connecting people to employment and housing opportunities

  • Chad Schwitters, Executive Director, Urban Homeworks, Minneapolis
  • Matt Halley, Executive Director, Cookie Cart,  Minneapolis
  • Colin Hamilton, Senior Vice President, Artspace  

Lights on Broadway (and Broad Ave):  Artists of color and culturally relevant theater; race matters!
Pat Brown, Co-Owner of T. Clifton Art Gallery, Memphis

  • Dennis Spears, Artistic Director, Capri Theater, Minneapolis
  • Faye Price, Co-Artistic Director, Pillsbury House Theater, Minneapolis
  • Eckundayo Bandele, Founder and Executive Director of Hatiloo Theatre, Memphis

Healthy Places in Community Spaces: Pocket Parks and more!

  • Deanna Cummings, Executive Director, Juxtaposition Arts, Minneapolis
  • Jenna Fletcher, Trust for Public Land, Minneapolis
  • Gretchen McLennon, Program Director, Authentic Assets, Hyde Family Foundations, Memphis

Economic Development & Role of Creative Placemaking

  • Pat Brown, Co-Owner of T. Clifton Art Gallery, Memphis
  • Roger Cummings, Juxtaposition Arts, Minneapolis
  • Chris Miner, Managing Director, Crosstown Arts, Memphis

Evening: Reception with Juxtaposition Arts
Friday, October 3, 8:30am - 2:00pm
North@Work: A Workforce Development & Employment Initiative of the Northiside Funders Group in Minneapolis  

  • Tawanna Black, Executive Director, Northside Funders Group
  • Linda Bryant, Director of Employment Services, Emerge  
  • Mike Wynne, Executive Director, Emerge

Insight into Memphis: The Arts, Culture and Community Development Collaboratives

  • Eric Robertson, President, Community LIFT, Memphis
  • Linda Steele, Chief Engagement and Outreach Officer, Arts Memphis
  • Jan Young, Executive Director, Assisi Foundation, Memphis