October 2013 | The Hawthorne EcoVillage, a four-block cluster of homes located in north Minneapolis, is an award-winning, multi-year revitalization project. The project, which began in 2007, is improving the Hawthorne neighborhood's quality of life through green building design and construction practices, sustainable site planning, neighborhood engagement, and urban reforestation. The goal of the EcoVillage development was to create and maintain a neighborhood that is a model of sustainability by preserving existing homes, building new single family homes, offering mixed-income living opportunities, and putting the urban landscape to best use by nurturing a healthy, sustainable Northside community.
In 2007, the Hawthorne neighborhood was riddled with vacant and foreclosed homes. Foreclosed properties comprised over 15% of all residential properties in the area – the highest foreclosure rate in the city. Several properties harbored criminal activity. With the inception of the EcoVillage, the violent crime rate decreased 73% between 2007 and 2009. The homeownership rate has almost doubled, and there are now zero foreclosed properties in the EcoVillage. The project has created a nationally recognized, safe community asset that has sustainable features unique to the EcoVillage – making it a special place residents are proud to call home.
To date, four sustainably designed homes, including the first LEED Platinum Certified home in north Minneapolis, a demonstration garden, a tree nursery, and community garden are complete. Additionally, photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof of the project's sole business, the Bangkok Market, cutting energy costs and promoting renewable energy. Project partners hope the EcoVillage will become a Net Zero Energy Community by 2050.
|Hawthorne EcoVillage Transformation|
Key factors to the success of the EcoVillage are its neighborhood-driven approach and its multidisciplinary network of committed partners: Project for Pride in Living, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council, Family Housing Fund, City of Minneapolis, Northside Home Fund, Hennepin County, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, and others. A deep commitment from EcoVillage residents is perhaps the most important success factor in the turnaround of the area. For example, PPL held four public design workshops in 2009 where designers and residents jointly identified development goals, including sustainability, and created a site plan to guide the project. Engaging residents from the beginning resulted in broader support for new ideas and the overall project.
In 2010 EcoVillage received the LISC/MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Award for neighborhood revitalization. President Jimmy Carter, working in the EcoVillage to help build Habitat for Humanity homes in 2010, declared the transformed neighborhood "the nicest in which I've ever worked" over his 27 years of similar work. The EcoVillage is a model for sustainable urban transformation and its story continues to inspire PPL, project partners, residents, and the greater community to tackle challenged neighborhoods with a comparable holistic approach.