CARAG neighborhood hunts for a new name

A group of CARAG residents met at Morrissey’s Irish Pub this week to talk about a process to potentially change the neighborhood’s name.

CARAG is an acronym for Calhoun Area Residents Action Group, and it’s been around since the 1970s.

Residents expect to doorknock and canvass widely for input, but there are a few potential names floating so far, like Lakewood and Bryant Square. Other ideas capture the “Uptown” identity, such as South Uptown.

CARAG President Tricia Markle said they’re starting to think about local landmarks, as many neighborhoods are named for a land feature. Neighborhood boundaries are Lake Street, Hennepin Avenue, 36th Street and Lyndale Avenue. It’s located in the heart of Uptown and is home to Bryant Square Park.

The issue arises now that the state has officially changed Lake Calhoun’s name to Bde Maka Ska, the result of advocacy to restore the Dakota name and move away from a namesake that vocally supported slavery and played a role in forcing Native American resettlement.

In addition, some dislike that CARAG is an acronym, referencing an organization rather than a neighborhood feature.

CARAG considered changing its name 15 years ago. Back then, ideas for a new name included Diversity, Uptown East, Uptown Crossroads, Wellstone, Urban Forest, Lyn-Lake and Emerson.

“I’m glad the name will now finally change,” said Aaron Rubenstein, who worked on the first renaming initiative. “It doesn’t provide much of a sense of identity at all.”

He said that after U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone’s plane crashed in 2002, a few people suggested changing the neighborhood’s name to “Wellstone.” They opened up the debate to include other names as well, and brought the decision to a neighborhood-wide vote in 2003.

“We discovered it was harder than we thought to come up with potential new names,” Rubenstein said.

CARAG Executive Coordinator Scott Engel recalls that efforts to change the name failed in 2003 when longtime residents opposed a change and others didn’t like the options under consideration.

The new task force will seek community input and research options to find a name that’s recognizable to neighbors and the wider community. Markle said CARAG neighborhood signs are already due for an update, and the cost of a name change is estimated at $1,200. The potential name change would come to a neighborhood vote targeted for September.

“We’re looking for ways to get the word out about it,” Markle said.