The Jorenby family -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The Jorenby family


Kristin Jorenby is co-block leader at her house in North Minneapolis. She and her daughter, Nyssa, have chosen to be active in their neighborhood’s revitalization.

‘I’ve chosen to act’

As a block leader in her North Minneapolis neighborhood, Kristin Jorenby has organized National Night Out events, removed absentee landlords and worked to demolish abandoned homes. In 2007, she helped her neighborhood win a “Building Blocks” award.

“I know there are good parts to this neighborhood and there are bad parts,” she said. “I can choose to ignore it, or I can choose to do something about it. I’ve chosen to act.”

Jorenby moved into the neighborhood 14 years ago. Though she is a native of suburban Minneapolis, she always knew she was more of a city girl. Living in North Minneapolis, she and her daughter, Nyssa, feel close to their neighbors.

“McKinley offers a wide variety of people, and it’s awesome to expose my daughter to the diversity,” Jorenby said.

“It takes education and awareness to build a safe and stable neighborhood, and you can’t do it by yourself.”

Jorenby works alongside her co-block leader and neighbor, in collaboration with other McKinley residents. In addition to earning the Building Blocks award, the neighborhood recently started its own organic community garden.

Jorenby is also finishing her bachelor’s degree and will apply for a master’s program in social work and public policy in the fall. In addition to her community and educational commitments, Jorenby works part time with the Minnesota Department of Transportation Seeds program, which provides support to students with disabilities. Herself disabled, Jorenby has become passionate about advocating for the disabled community, encouraging better accommodations and upgrades across Minnesota and being a spokeswoman for independent living and vocational rehab.

Although Jorenby is active in her community, her physical and financial limitations have hindered her ability to maintain the exterior of her home. She came across Habitat’s A Brush with Kindness program in the local paper and saw an opportunity to fix up her home.

“We work really hard as a neighborhood to keep things looking nice,” Jorenby said. She knows this is one more step toward creating a safer, nicer neighborhood for herself and her daughter.