Mr. Mac & Batala

Insight News editor-in-chief, Al McFarlane and publisher, Batala McFarlane.

Insight News and Hawthorne Neighborhood Council are directing the community’s attention toward health and well-being through the Insight2Health Fitness Challenge (I2HFC), which recently moved to North Minneapolis.

In many ways, this unique collaboration simply builds on a rich history of civic engagement and community building that are signature missions of both Hawthorne Neighborhood Council and Insight News, the North Minneapolis based flagship property of McFarlane Media. The Insight2Health Fitness Challenge asks North Minneapolis residents to challenge narratives that are deficit based … narratives fixated on poverty, joblessness, health disparities, education disparities and other maladies that, while they exist in real time, pale in comparison to the resilience of spirit, culture, and opportunity that more truly describe who we are as a community.

The Insight2Health Fitness Challenge asks us to envision our neighborhoods as a Blue Zone by the year 2040 or sooner, and then move with intentionality to make it so. The challenge is precisely one of the moves that we can make, and are making, as individuals and as neighborhood organizations to create a new narrative about who we are and about our aspirations for longevity and quality of life.

Now in its 12th session, I2HFC brings together residents, professional fitness trainers and yoga instructors, certified nutrition experts and other resources in 10-week fitness programs designed to elevate and celebrate the “can-do/must-do” spirit of residents who commit to a grueling schedule of intense physical fitness training and supportive food and nutrition counseling and  life coaching.

We train weekdays from 6 a.m. – 7 a.m. (except Wednesdays) at the Cora McCorvey YMCA in Heritage Park. 1015 4th Ave. N. On Saturdays at 9 a.m. we do yoga or alternate activities in the neighborhood.

With Hawthorne’s leadership, Insight News invited the Northside Agencies Council members to join the Insight2Health Fitness Challenge by recruiting and supporting participants from their neighborhoods.

The vision is that we will create a network of Fitness Ambassadors representing established neighborhood organizations, like Lind-Bohannon, Jordan, Cleveland, NRRC (Northside Residents Redevelopment Council) and others to facilitate a community-wide discussion and movement that identifies health and well-being as neighborhood priorities, and as rights and responsibilities for residents.

Why the connection to the neighborhood newspaper, Insight News?As I said at the beginning of this writing, Hawthorne and Insight News are joined at the hip. More properly, it was Hawthorne, Jordan and NRRC that gave birth to Insight News in 1976 as a North Minneapolis based business venture.

I remember like it was yesterday; addressing the meetings of Hawthorne, Jordan and NRRC, asking my neighbors to support my vision to create a neighborhood newspaper that would challenge all the negative press heaped on our neighborhood by the downtown media by celebrating our strengths and diversity, our cultures and our passions. I would be holding my one year old in arms while her older sister stood by my side as I made the presentations requesting neighborhood support.

I was aware then, and I am aware today of the image I cast as a Black father seeking to pursue the American dream as a businessperson. Moreover, I was keenly aware of the importance of the idea of family as the cornerstone of neighborhood. The child I held then now leads Insight News and as a business leader. She set in motion the creation of the Insight2Health Fitness Challenge.

The vision and mission continue today, I say, with Insight News still joined at the hip with Hawthorne Neighborhood Council, still fighting the power by celebrating our great neighborhoods and residents as we march toward fulfillment, development and opportunity.

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