By Jon Schumacher
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Saint Anthony Park Community Foundation. I have been proud to serve as its executive director for most of those years and have benefitted enormously from the vision and commitment of the many neighbors who have served on our board over that time.
Special appreciation from our entire community should go out to those founding mothers and fathers whose love for St. Anthony Park provided the spark that created an organization that in 20 years has granted more than $500,000 in support of programs, institutions and initiatives that have fulfilled our longstanding mission “to nurture the unique community assets of St. Anthony Park to secure a strong and vibrant neighborhood for future generations.”
The Foundation has played an important role in nurturing this unique urban community. Through community generosity we have created three endowed funds totaling more than $1 million that have supported everything from a fruit garden to a neighborhood quilt project to arts in the schools to district-wide long-range planning. We have collaborated with our non-profit and for-profit neighbors to promote vitality in our critical public and private institutions. We have partnered with our Community Council to ensure that community voice is actively represented in the planning and development of land, parks and roadways.
Following the directives of our community, we have placed a particular priority on our area schools. Our annual contributions have supported programs and classes in environmental science, tutoring, music, art and leadership, as well as capital improvements, equipment and field trips. We have also funded organizations like Shakespeare in St. Anthony Park and Joy of the People that provide out-of-school activities for our youth.
We were on the ground floor in the development of the Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) and Transition Town and continue to support community-building activities across District 12, including the 4th of July Parade & Picnic, the Arts Fest, Progressive Dinner, Park B4 Dark, Shop Home for the Holidays and the Chroma Zone Mural & Arts Fest in the CEZ.
As my time as executive director comes to an end, I am incredibly thankful for the support and relationships I have been privileged to experience. In my public role, I have tried to put personal opinions aside to give voice to the collective agendas and desires of this community. I have fallen short at times, and this community has been good at letting me know when they feel I have strayed from that goal. You have also been kind and forgiving in these teachable moments, encouraging me to learn from them and grow.
It takes a community to raise a community leader and I have felt blessed to be raised by some of the best members of St. Anthony Park. I can’t name them all because so many of you have been there for me when I needed advice, perspective or help. There are many talented, knowledgeable, and engaged neighbors in this community. I have often said that in this neighborhood, we are typically about one block away from the preeminent authority on just about anything you can imagine. And I have called on most of them in my 20 years.
Due to that abundance of riches, I really have seen my job as one of facilitation rather than expertise. A mentor I will name is Andy Boss, one of our Foundation founders and first board chair. He once told me that the secret to successful leadership was to make sure the right people were at the table when decisions were being made. It was clear that by “right people” Andy meant the people whose lives would be most affected by those decisions.
I have confidence that as the Foundation moves into its next 20 years, it will continue its commitment to help the community tackle the tough issues of housing, transportation, and maintaining the small-town neighborly atmosphere amid the changing dynamics of the urban growth all around the district.
There will be challenging times, but the heart of this community has always been fed by the lifeblood of neighborliness. As long as we actively promote inclusivity, embrace open and fair processes, and commit to understanding what’s best for the common good, St. Anthony Park will be place good people will want to call home. Thank you all for 20 of the best years of my life and keep supporting the Saint Anthony Park Community Foundation. Like this neighborhood, it’s a treasure that should not be taken for granted.