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A Better Kind of “Business as Usual”

Anna Tsantir, Founder Lady, Two Bettys Green Cleaning

December 17, 2021

Since March of 2020, our business community, landscape and daily rhythms have been substantially and irrevocably changed. Covid has presented a strange new reality where some businesses experienced the best financial years ever, while others were decimated. And some only survived because of federal aid for small businesses. 

When the heart of our neighborhood, Downtown Longfellow, was destroyed in the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd, our community was shaken. As we look out over vacant lots, it may seem as though little has changed or been accomplished over the last year and half. But, out of the rubble, a coalition of businesses and property owners at Lake and Minnehaha formed Longfellow Rising. And our partner organization, Redesign, has purchased the historic Coliseum building—one of the only buildings at the intersection to survive the civil unrest. Both organizations are committed to rebuild with a vision that prioritizes sustainability, racial justice, the arts, and healing space that recognizes the trauma experienced by our BIPOC communities for centuries leading up to the murder of Mr. Floyd. 

This is not business as usual. For companies that have experienced both the pandemic and a civil uprising first hand, there seems no other option but to evolve into something new and better. At Two Bettys, we’ve seen some real positives:

  • We have had to collectively figure out paid leave and time off for sick or quarantined employees (or those who need to care for family) 
  • We’re learning techniques to remove bias from our hiring processes, and 
  • We’re figuring out how to increase wages to stabilize our workforce with a livable income and safety nets

These shifts towards a more sustainable workplace for all improve company culture. As a business, we have the power and agency to impact our entire community, to create better living conditions in the neighborhoods we call home.

Whether it’s physical rebuilding or internal changes of company culture, this opportunity for transformation will not be quick or easy. Seeing these changes through will require room and agency for everyone at the table to share more experiences and points of view than ever before. In business, change management only works when there is collaboration and communication. I heard a quote at a Pollen event here in Minneapolis, the kind you jot down on whatever you have handy (I still have the napkin pinned to the wall in my office): “Collaboration—you know you are doing it when it hurts a little.” 

Change often causes discomfort, but that discomfort is an invaluable tool in finding our way through challenges. 

The Longfellow Business Association (where I serve as a board member) and our other partner organizations are crucial for connection, collaboration, and making our voices heard. We’re more powerful when we come together to create a new way to do “business as usual.” Through both Covid and the civil unrest, we have witnessed how our communities, both residents and businesses, can come together to support and lift up the beloved, integral, and struggling businesses in our neighborhoods. In this transformative time for our city, these connections are more crucial than ever. We are taking the lessons and using them to continue to build back a better Longfellow and beyond—for everyone.

So here’s to 2021 with all of its challenges, and cheers to more positive (if sometimes painful) growth in 2022.