Tapestries: Interwoven voices of local and global identities


The East Phillips neighborhood in South Minneapolis has been planning to transform an abandoned warehouse into an indoor urban farm for nearly a decade. When the city of Minneapolis announced it would demolish the warehouse–releasing arsenic from the soil into the community–and use the land for a public works facility, a fierce battle over environmental justice and the right to produce space (a theory popularized by Henri Lefebvre) ensued. East Phillips is a geographically significant place: It has the largest urban concentration of Indigenous people in the country, and it is the birthplace of the American Indian Movement. Indigenous land defenders led the community in a series of protests over the span of 2022 and 2023 that halted the city’s plans. This initiative is an excellent case study to examine who gets to determine how space is produced, how marginalized communities push back against colonial planning practices to create counter-spaces, and what successful community-led planning initiatives can look like. This paper will explore the history of the contested land as abstract space, East Phillips as a marginalized place and hot spot for community organizing, the production of space and the Indigenous right to the city, environmental justice, and community-driven planning initiatives as a tool for resistance, healing, and growth.

Author Biography

Oli Palmera Tierney (they/any) is a Geography and American Studies double major with an Urban Studies concentration. They grew up in Louisville, Kentucky where they were involved in community organizations around environmental and social justice. They are passionate about community-oriented urban planning as a tool for social change, as well as art and its role in social movements. They hope to continue this work in the Twin Cities after graduation.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License