It's been roughly 4 months since I moved to Minnesota. To learn more about the communities in the Twin Cities, I began volunteering for a community mural lead by confident and compassionate youth leaders who title themselves the Frog Town Crew (FTC). This crew consists of high schoolers from the Frog Town Community. It's a program of St. Paul Smart Trips and the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center at the Science Museum of Minnesota and their projects works to promote a healthier lifestyle, safety and the Frog Town community. FTC is led by two community organizers, Tou Saiko Lee, spoken word and hip-hop artist and Marc King an emerging artist and assistant coordinator at the Youth Science Center.
Working in collaboration with FTC is artist Krissana Ari, a multi-media artist, musician and activist in the LGBTQ and various other communities from the West Coast. At the heart of this mural are students who are taking charge of community organizing and learning to become the leaders of their generation. They are leaving a large mark in their community to encourage conversations about positive change. This mural is a portrait of their community and home.
As an outsider assisting in this project, I was extremely moved by these students and their dedication to being the change in their community. I was moved knowing that these teenagers were spending their summer, trying to show how they felt about their community and how it should be viewed differently than how the media portrays it. Upon moving to Minnesota, I've heard many bad things about Frog Town. About how it’s always dirty, unsafe, and your car can even get stolen. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like growing up with the gang related violence, police brutality, theft, and negativity. How does anyone believe in positive change when all you hear and see are the negatives?
I believe the Frog Town Crew are doing what anyone would have done. They are promoting positive images of where they come from while setting strong examples of how a community can combat and shift the voice and misconception of a neighborhood which has been developing and growing with various different ethnicities and cultures.
I moved to the Twin Cities, Minnesota because I wanted to see for myself what it's like to live in a concentrated Hmong population. My first memory of Frog Town was from the late 90s, when I use to visit my grandmother every summer and stay with her for 2-3 months. She loved St. Paul simply because she was able to converse comfortably and shop at local stores for everything. To her, Frog Town was a big part of her life. It was an extremely humble experience to see the Frog Town Community Mural's process. As an artist, nothing gets better than seeing how supportive the neighbors and businesses were in donating materials, time, and a wall to paint a portrait that will hopefully last 10-20 years from today.
Thank you Frog Town Crew!
To learn more about the Frog Town Community Mural, like and follow them on social media: