Humans of Minneapolis: Nicole, First Bridge Park

July 28, 2017 by Chee Xiong

Stephanie Glaros’ Humans of Minneapolis portraits of park-goers remind us of the many powerful ways that parks can connect us, heal us and make us whole. This summer, her 10-image series is exploring how parks transform human life, as told through each person’s own words and Stephanie’s boldly compassionate lens.

Here, we’re reposting Stephanie’s 2017 series. View all images in this year’s series, and in 2016’s, via the Humans of Minneapolis category link

Nicole (a.k.a Coco), at First Bridge Park

“I always come to the park because it calms me down. It brings me peace. I love anything that’s in nature. I love to swim, fish, ice skate, kayak.  I love to get lost in the woods and find my way back by the sun. It brings me back to where we started.

I’ve been homeless for a number of years, so I sleep down here a lot. Sometimes I feel more comfortable being down here as opposed to staying at a shelter. There you have to deal with everybody else’s struggles and problems. But if I come down here, its calming and peaceful. I’m connected with myself.

I was born in St. Paul. That’s where I went through all my foster homes. One day when I was twelve, the foster home I had been in for seven years told me my mom and dad were coming to get me. I was so excited. But then it was some white people who showed up. I didn’t know it wasn’t my birth parents coming until that exact moment. Thirty minutes later, I left with them.

My whole life changed. They took me to Biwabik, Minnesota where there’s no black people. My name was changed to something totally different from what I was born with. I couldn’t remember my new name at school, so I was a dumb [n-word]. It was awful. Just a lot of negative experiences. But I learned a lot of skills. I learned how to chop wood.

I write children’s stories because as a child who was in the foster care system and then being adopted by white folks made me think about other children’s struggles because I’ve been there. So I write positive material that’s based on exactly what they’re going through. My dream is to get my stories published and out there. That’s important to me. I could affect the feelings of children who are going through what I went through or are facing what I went through, so that they can change their situation.

I think that schools need to get inner-city children into these parks a whole lot more. Let them experience the different flowers, plants, and bugs and learn what they do for our planet. I would love to see them be able to use the sun as a guide if they go into the woods. That’s natural GPS.”

Listen to Coco’s story:

Images and content are reposted with permission from Stephanie Glaros/Humans of Minneapolis.

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