Representing the ‘hoods

T-shirts and merchandise give neighbors a common bond

 Neighborhoods provide people a relatively small bond, certainly not one as recognized as being a Minneapolitan or a Minnesotan or an American. Yet they somehow still succeed at bringing a sense of unity to their regions.

While demographics aren’t always that different from one neighborhood to the next, each has its own stories to tell and its own unique interests.

One way that’s reflected is in merchandise — mainly, in T-shirts. They represent the stories of relatively small East Harriet wanting to build a strong brand, Kenny feeling like one mind, Linden Hills going green.

The following snapshot of neighborhood shirts is by no means a complete taste of all of Southwest’s neighborhoods’ merchandise. Think your neighborhood’s merchandise is more exciting than what you see here? Leave a comment.

Kenny

Just call residents of the Kenny neighborhood, well, Kenny. At least that’s what their T-shirts ask you to do.

“We’re unified,” said the neighborhood association’s Tim Martin. “We’re basically one person.”

That’s the thinking behind Kenny’s main merchandising effort. Its T-shirts have the neighborhood’s logo on it, along with the “Just call me Kenny” statement.

That line — thought up by Colleen Sauber, a former Kenny Neighborhood Association chairwoman — was the result of a board-held competition about four years ago. She also came up with the statement on Kenny’s kids shirts, which proclaim, “I’m a Kenny kid.”

“We’re all on the same page using the same voice,” Martin said.

 $10 adults, $8 kids • www.kennyneighborhood.org

Lyndale

In true Lyndale fashion, its neighborhood T-shirts are a smartly coordinated effort.

Mark Hinds, the Lyndale Neighborhood Assocation’s executive director, said a new design rolls in about every couple of years. Sometimes they’re just to promote neighborhood. Other times, they promote specific events, such as the recently completed Walldogs mural project.

To promote the neighborhood’s efforts to be more environmentally friendly, the Lyndale Neighborhood Association also sells sturdy water bottles ($6) and — here’s something you don’t find every day — tote bags ($12) that feel like cotton but are made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles.

$15 • call 824-9402

Linden Hills

Leave it to this neighborhood to never veer from its green efforts, even when it comes to producing a neighborhood T-shirt. All Linden Hills apparel options are made out of organic materials.

“We consider our environment in everything we do,” said Kelly Keegan, of the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council.

No joke.

The shirts feature a logo by graphic designer Deb Pierce, who lives in the neighborhood. Although her design originally was meant for a new masthead for the Linden Hills newsletter, it was deemed a perfect representation of the neighborhood, Keegan said, because it features the Como-Harriet streetcar.

Kids also get the streetcar on their shirts — designed by another Linden Hills resident, Tanya Swanson — plus a reminder of the good ole days of children’s TV.

“Won’t you be my neighbor?” they ask.

$15 • call 827-8020

Armatage

Up until this year, the closest things Armatage had to neighborhood-unifying objects were its street signs telling drivers to slow down. There were no T-shirts, no coffee mugs, no tote bags — nothing that neighbors could carry or wear to show off their Armatage pride.

That all changed in February, when the Armatage Neighborhood Association (ANA) launched an online store through Café Press, a company that deals in individual screen-printing orders. The company handles printing, shipping and returns, and it’s also allowed Armatage to have one of the largest selections in neighborhood merchandise.

There are two logos — one of which was developed by Lisa Domagala, a graphic designer who lives in the neighborhood — that can be put on hoodies, T-shirts, baseball jerseys and polos. The store carries tote bags, messenger bags, mugs, aprons and hats. Have an Armatage baby? Put him or her in an Armatage onesie.

“It’s not a cash cow,” said Dan Sweeney, ANA vice president, but it is an affordable way for the neighborhood association to spread the Armatage spirit.

Various prices • www.cafepress.com/armatagegear

 

East Harriet

East Harriet is yearning to bust out of its shell and get stronger recognition — partly for grant money and partly to build a tighter-knit community.

The best way to get started? Create a series of T-shirts showcasing landmarks East Harriet residents are proud of.

Shirts currently available display the Lake Harriet Band Shell and the Edmund J. Phelps Fountain. Other landmarks that are expected to be showcased on newer shirts are the historic Wirth House, the original farmstead, the Rose Garden and the Lakewood Cemetery.

“When people are walking around with those T-shirts, it gets the word out [about East Harriet],” said Matt Perry, executive director of the East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association.

And at this point, that’s key for a neighborhood trying to strengthen its presence.

(Revenue doesn’t hurt, either. Perry said sales of shirts, plus sales of winter hats ($10) with East Harriet patches sewn on them, earned the neighborhood association about $1,200 in 2007.)

$15 • call 824-9350