Local filmmaker and SPNN staffer Bianca Rhodes opens up about her latest project in the Rondo neighborhood.
Q: Can you tell us about the Rondo Project (what it is and some history)?
A: The Rondo Neighborhood is an African-American Neighborhood in Saint Paul that was torn apart from the creation of the I-94 Highway. Because of the highway’s location, many families lost their homes and businesses. The Rondo Home Storytellers, created with Saint Paul Almanac, is a project that gets youth to connect with families of Rondo, to talk about what they remember during the time of the highway being built, what was life like before, and what was it like growing up during that time. The Youth visit families, break bread (eat dinner) and then conduct the interview.
Q: What angles are portrayed in the documentary the group created?
A: We allow the families to tell the story, we don’t necessarily have an angle. We want the people that we interview to speak their truth. We do want to show the importance of that neighborhood and its contributions.
Q: Who has been affected and why is it important for this project to be developed?
A: Many families in the Rondo area were affected before and long after the highway was created. This project brings voice to those families, they deserved to be heard and valued. Historically, the Rondo area was a huge economic center for that section of Saint Paul.
Q: What have you learned through this journey?
A: I have learned that we all need to sit down with the elders in our families and let them tell us stories of what it was like for them growing up. There are a lot more similarities than differences. We can learn so much from our past to help our futures!
Q: What is something we can expect to see during the film or something we might be surprised by?
A: You can expect to hear some amazing stories of how some families overcame the struggle, and what our Elders in the community remember about Rondo.
Q: How can hearing the the stories that have been collected through this project affect our community for the better?
A: It will ensure that something like this will not happen again. It will ensure that there will be a better procedure that involves the community it affects. Community involvement, listening, connecting builders with the families when they go into neighborhood. Building relationships. Not using fear.