Asian Media Access has been conducted many special projects to support the community needs that may not fall within AMA’s regular activities. For example, after May 2011 North Minneapolis tornado disaster, AMA has helped to clean out the debris and giving out financial supports to victims. AMA has also conducted the extensive Community Participatory Based Research to tackle the health disparities within the eight ethnic groups (Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Khmer, Korean, Laotian and Vietnamese) within Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
Asian Pacific American Community Network (APAComMNet)

The mission of Asian Pacific American Community Network (APAComMNet) is to actively challenge the existing cultural and linguistic barriers regarding access to information and services on health, civics and social service issues in the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Led by Asian Media Access, along with 12 partners, APAComMNet serves as a catalyst to develop and support the innovative use of internet and digital technologies, to expand the reach, to improve health, civics and social services delivery for the relevant needs of AAPIs. Our mission is supported through education, community organizing, TV/radio broadcasting and an audio/video streaming website – www.apacommnet.org. APAComMNet recognizes the importance of utilizing different mediums and multiple channels of communication to reach our intended audience.

The Beginning
In 1997 Asian Media Access (AMA) revisited its mission statement “to connect the disconnected” and embarked on a large-scale technology project which would expand the organization’s means of access for our constituents and our community. Since its inception in 1992, AMA has used traditional forms of media- print, radio, TV- to create alternative forms of media primarily for educating and informing the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community of Minneapolis-St. Paul. In 1998 the Asian Pacific American Community Network (APA ComMNet) project was conceived, a project that embraces Web & internet technology and seeks to create a Wide Area Network (WAN) among several AAPI organizations to collaborate on an educational program and share information to improve services for their constituents. The collaborative organizations each serve a specific sector of the AAPI community and services include one, several or all of the following: education, after-school activities, career development/ job skills training, and small business activities.

Comprehensive technology assessment of the AAPI community
In 1999 AMA began the process of conducting needs assessment across the AAPI community in the Twin Cities to determine their technology capacities. By and large we discovered, most AAPI non-profit agencies have limited or fixed budgets with almost no money allocated to technology upgrades. Many want to gain access to the Web, but financially the organization is strapped. During the last year and a half a substantial gain in the digital divide has been made, and more organizations now have access to the Web, albeit dial-up networks. As more AAPI organizations adapt technology into the workplace and become more technology savvy, now is the time to expand programs and services for community members as well as incorporate more advanced forms of information technology like audio and video streaming. A key find was that several of the AAPI organizations already have a space designated as a “community computer lab” however the vast majority of these labs are currently not being used and they are equipped with ancient technology (i.e. computers without pentium processors)

Establishing collaborative network and advisory committee
Thus far the APA ComMNet has involved establishing a network collaboration in the AAPI community of the Twin Cities and inviting 15 organizations to form a pilot of the APA ComMNet. Although 15 organizations is an arbitrary selection, it creates a large enough network to determine how best to proceed with expanding the community network during the next phase of the project. Our philosophy is one that embraces sharing resources to provide the best possible service for our constituents. Currently there are 10 partnering agencies which are contractually committed to the project, and 5 agencies signed up to share in the network, waiting on contract. (See Appendix B Letters of Commitment). The period of assessment helped foster strong collaborations with several organizations and agencies in the AAPI community and form an advisory committee to oversee details of the APA ComMNet project, so that each of the AAPI communities has representation.

1) Partnership Meeting: Community partners meet bi-monthly to provide cultural understanding and education about specific Asian group and develop culturally and linguistically appropriate resources.

2) Educational Resources Development: APAComMNet website is a multilingual website developed for the collection and distribution of resources, featuring a) youth creations on substance abuse and health issues; b) community assessment reports; c) multi-lingual health education information; and d) prevention video, radio, animation, chat-room and interviews. End users will be greeted with an interactive page with the word “Welcome” translated into diverse Asian languages. Users will be able to click on their specific language and navigate to a language specific site, for health, civics and social services information.

3) Community Outreach Activities: APA ComMNet actively engages and outreaches to families, schools, community; healthcare; government; and law enforcement agencies in order is to increase understanding of various public health issues among the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Project PENN Initiative

(Places for Entertaining, Networking and Nurturing)

Led by Asian Media Access and Twin Cities Regional Center, the Multi Cultural Community Alliance (MCCA) is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural coalition serving North Minneapolis since 2012. MCCA proposes to host the Project PENN (Places for Entertaining, Networking and Nurturing) Initiative, which is an innovative and effective placed-based Initiative that engages underrepresented communities (low-income/communities of color, and refugees/immigrants) in leadership roles to develop an economic development scan and vision plan for North Minneapolis, with a special focus on a 2-mile radius around Penn and Plymouth Corridor.

The 2-year old Multicultural Collaborative – MCCA has conduced the Sharing Circles with the communities of colors since Feb last year exploring the economic development issues. Our MCCA Partners include: Asian Media Access (program manager); E.D.E.N. (Eating Delicious, Eating Nutrition); Hennepin County/Department of Environmental Services (government); Hmong International Academy; New Millennium Academy; Pathway Learning Center (local educational agency); Pan Asian Arts Alliance (promoting public health through arts); Project Sweetie Pie (urban farmers coalition, PSP); Twin Cities Regional Center (CDC); Somali Community Resettlement Services (SCRS) and Zintkala Luta (Dakota tribe).
On Oct. 29, 2013 these communities joined for a North Minneapolis Community Summit at the UROC, with face-to-face discussions on citizens-led economic development plans that emerged from the field research and Sharing Circles. With more than 60+ participants from cross-sectors (academic, farmers, state legislature, government workers, small business owners, and youth), the synergy was high, and the group has further defined the joint vision, with agreed-upon Economic

Development Principles:

  • Utilizing the Equity Transit Oriented Place making model;
  • Thinking Small (ex. small business, small block development), from the bottom up;Focusing on Evolving Over Time, instead of Revolution Over Night;
  • Avoiding Gentrification Effect on the neighborhoods; it’s important to preserve the characteristics of neighborhoods, along with economic development opportunities.

This diverse group of partners and supporters will continue to be involved in the Project PENN from planning, decision-making, to neighborhood organizing and to the actual implementation.

Project Idea:
The Goal of the Project PENN is to – Empower the under-served communities of color to take the leadership on economic development planning and implementation around Penn/Plymouth Corridor. Traditionally, the Transit-Oriented Development means high density with mixed-use development. Usually, there is a major developer, making the best plan that would attract the right people to come from somewhere else and make that plan happen. But if we choosing to believe in the Better Block’s philosophy, which is that every community already has everybody they need. They just need to activate the talented people who are already there, and collectively decide one block at a time, and that block can become better really quickly. So instead of the high-rise real-estate development, we call for the small-block development, with sustainable small business establishments, maybe just a coffee shop to start with. Project PENN is not against bigger, high density development, which is not less important nor inappropriate, but should not be THE ONLY development; often the resources all get channeled into that one development in the area, ignoring other small business needs. Therefore, we advocate for a more balanced approach, and propose alternative/localized developments that may better support the neighborhood needs, and create sustainable impacts in a long run.

  • The immediate focus is to develop a comprehensive, cross cultural and multi-lingual Road Map for potential developments around Plymouth/Penn Corridor:
    Engaging neighbors to create street survey such as locations of empty lots, businesses, amenities, or major neighborhood events, and includes quick studies of various types of economic cluster;
  • Inviting under-served community members to submit business ideas with initial funding needs, and integrate them into selected market clusters and evaluate the Economic Impacts of each plan, and advance the ones with most potentials;

Developing an Advocacy Campaign utilizing the Road Map to support policy changes to incorporate our constituencies’ requests for small area development into transit development criteria;Long-term Vision Plan along with the short-term interventions, and becomes a guiding framework for future development and investment. It also becomes a tool to attract additional partners and capitals through EB5 investment.