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Volunteers Plant Seeds In Violence-Stricken N. Mpls.

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(credit: CBS) Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Police working on the city’s north side have their hands full again this week.

Three women were shot early Wednesday morning outside of a home on Fremont Avenue North. The women were all seriously hurt.

Officers say they think the shooter knew the victims. Mayor Betsy Hodges addressed the latest violence Wednesday.

“We are putting all the forces we have to bear on these issues,” Hodges said. “Law enforcement can’t do it alone.”

Some people in the area say they are scared, but everyone seems to agree there’s work to be done.

Just blocks away, dozens of volunteers are tending to a community garden.

Michael Chaney with the volunteer group Project Sweetie Pie is helping lead the effort.

“What we’re trying to create here is what we call ‘the Rose Garden of the North,’ Chaney said. “We’ve created this space that we want to turn into north Minneapolis’ town square.”

Teenagers gathered with hoses, rakes and fertilizer.

“We’re training these young people today in gardening, in landscaping. You know, I say horticulture is the gateway to the trades,” he said. “We see ourselves as the anecdote to a lot of the poison.”

Youth mentor Earl Whimper, 26, has a story that supports Chaney’s theory. He said his life changed when he was exposed to drama and arts programs.

“What it did was open my eyes to things I never seen before,” Whimper said.

Born and raised on the north side, Whimper’s own brother was murdered in 2007. He now works for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and says he uses his heartbreak to strengthen young souls.

“I’m from the north side too. I grew up here too. I done did my dirt, I done went left when I should have been going right but I knew at the same time, there’s a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things,” Whimper said.

In the middle of a neighborhood marked by crime, they are planting seeds they believe will blossom.

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and ESPs also helped with the garden.

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