Get to know your neighborhood via Minnesota Compass

Houses

Source: Flikr Creative Commons

We’ve hosted the local National Night Out block party in our yard on the first Tuesday of August since 2000. It’s fun to see familiar faces, meet new neighbors, and talk about what’s going on in our area.

Now there’s a virtual way to do this: geographic profiles, produced by Minnesota Compass. I learned about them last night at a workshop, “By the numbers: finding and using neighborhood data, ” sponsored by the Twin Cities Media Alliance.  According to the webpage, “Profiles are available for the state as a whole, the 7 regions of the state, Minnesota’s 87 counties, and all cities with populations of 1,000+.”

For example, the profile for St. Cloud tells us that in 2014:

  • The median household income was $44,485;
  • 23.7 percent of residents lived in poverty;
  • 37.2 percent of residents paid 30 percent or more of their income for monthly housing;
  • 53.4 percent of households owned their own home.

I could have gone to the Census Bureau and found these data in the American Community Survey but now the experts at Wilder Research put the information together so that anyone with an internet connection can get them. And, I can trust that the data have been pulled together and evaluated by people who know what they’re doing.

Our workshop focused on neighborhood profiles that are available for Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth.  For instance, here’s a map of median household incomes by neighborhood in Minneapolis and St. Paul:

msp-median-income

Source: Median household income (2009-2013, 2013 dollars) Compiled by Compass from the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey (mncompass.org). Accessed May 2016.

You can also create a custom profile of your own by choosing cities, communities, neighborhoods, zip codes, or Census tracts.  If none of those are good enough, there’s a drawing tool that lets you pick the geographic area you want on a map and then generates a profile.

Give it a whirl.  It’s like a virtual block party and a great way to know your neighborhood better.