This summer students and faculty from the St. Catherine University Summer Scholars program teamed up with community members to complete 10 oral history interviews of longtime Como Community members. Their work for summer 2022 explores the Como Park neighborhood history and brings attention to aspects of Como, beyond the State Fair and the Como Zoo. These interviews are a part of the Como Neighborhood History project sponsored by the Neighborhood Relations committee of District 10. This project is beneficial to the community in that stories are being collected and preserved of life in the neighborhood since its addition between 1873 and 1887 to the City of St. Paul. The scholars were interested in learning about how Como residents remembered and experienced their neighborhood. In conducting these interviews students were able to better understand the legacy of discriminatory housing policies and their lasting impacts in the Como Park of today.
The Como Neighborhood History Project was rolled out to the community this year (2022) at the D10 Sub-district Community events. In June the project team hosted a History tour of District 10. Interested community members and the St. Kate’s team joined the group to walk and explore local landmarks.
Interviews started in June and since the conversations were so rich they typically lasted between one and one-half to two hours each. Some families interviewed went back three or four generations in the neighborhood while others were in Como a short but impactful period of time. Interviewees recalled neighbors and playmates, businesses and playgrounds. Every hill seemed much bigger and buildings much taller but the “fun” of growing up in Como was mentioned by all.
St. Kate’s Summer Scholars presented a “Story Map” of their work at their August Showcase. The Knight Lab Story Map is an open source software that connects a location to an accompanying picture and story. A Glimpse into Como Park is the product of the team’s work. View it at knightlab.com.
A special thank you goes to the following folks who generously gave of their time to be interviewed and share part of their Como story with the community: Bob Connolly, Mike Connolly, Connie Parizek, Reene Jacobson, Sandy Simpson, Judy Anderson, Ronald Anderson, Brendon McGowan, Agnes Dynes and Lu.
We would also like to thank interviewers: Maya Isabel Villafuerte, Sophie Gibson, Professor Rachel Neiwert, Laura Oyen, and Marcia Anderson; and project team member: Lija Greenseid.
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