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Map it Minnesota

Deaf Equity hosted several Map it MN sessions to gather input from the community about redistricting.

The Metro Map it Minnesota session had over 25+ participants. At this session, facilitated by Migdalia Rogers, Project manager, members give their input on what makes them a community. Members defined the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing community, the language, the history, culture, and varying identities. These factors are important to the Map it MN project.

Image: Many individuals in a room, some with masks and some without watching the Map it MN presentation.

Additionally, members looked at the Map and decided where most of the community lives. Other groups may live in specific areas. The Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing community live all over Minnesota. In these sessions, we learned that many live in the Metro area to be near services. Many live near the light rail and see the light rail as a lifeline. The University light rail connects more than ten services along the street. Some services include Minnesota Commission for the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing, Lifetrack Resources, Minnesota Employment Center, Vision Loss Resources, Minnesota Deaf Muslim Community, ThinkSelf, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, University of Minnesota, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and more. The public transportation that the light rail provides is used by many members of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing community.

Why is this important? In a time when Legislators are doing redistricting, it is important that they know that we exist. That our community is here. While we may not live in one specific area except maybe Faribault, our community uses many of the same services. This is valuable information when thinking about redistricting.

Some people at the sessions in Metro Area, Faribault, and the State Park mentioned the need for more affordable housing, transportation (bus or train) in other areas to connect to services, educational opportunities, and employment. Some individuals at the session want to be sure that Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing are considered for safety concerns. When the protests happened, the bus stop running, the light rail and people were stranded, they had no idea how they would get home or what was happening.

All these concerns were gathered and shared with other Map it MN organizations at the Unity Map. The Unity Map connects groups of people who may intersect, have same concerns and services. These will be presented to Legislators who live in those districts.

One participant said "I want to be sure that our Deaf Club is preserved". Another participant mentioned that she wanted to be sure Deaf Kids could attend Pre-K at Metro Deaf School if they wanted and not face district policies. One DeafBlind participant stated that he wanted to see more safety considerations for DeafBlind when using the light rail.

Project Director, Migdalia Rogers stated that this project and working with other community organizations has been rewarding. Rogers states that the community wants to be put on the map, concerns heard, and when redistricting know that there is history, historic buildings, services and programs that are essential to the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Community.

In partnership with the Minnesota Council on Non-profits, this project concludes at the end of October. Thank you to all who participated.

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