2018 NRPA Gold Medal Finalist – Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

2018 NRPA Gold Medal Finalist – Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board


[upbeat electric bells] Minneapolis has always valued its prized natural resources The Mighty Mississippi, its network of lakes and creeks, towering trees, fantastic flowers and abundant wildlife. That’s why 15% of city land is dedicated to parks 97% of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park and 97% of lakeshore in the “City of Lakes” is owned by Minneapolis Parks and maintained for public use. Our incredible park system was built through 135 years of firece advocacy and unwavering public support, and we’re still working every single day to make it better. Now, equity and accessibility drive our decision-making. In 2016, Minneapolis Parks became the first American park agency to require, by law, spending on park improvements use specific, transparent, data-driven measures to ensure racial and economic equity. That coincided with the launch of the 20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan, called NPP20 for short. NPP20 is a once-in-a-generation initiative to fix up the city’s long-underfunded neighborhood parks over the next two decades. You may have already noticed new sidewalks, repairs to the local recreation center or increased mowing or tree trimming All major NPP20 projects are planned through a community engagement process that has evolved to reach more people, including hiring Community Connectors to reach underserved communities and employing a Youth Design Team to engage with young people. [inspirational light rock music] I really got my start, early on, playing in the parks getting to know my neighbors, making friends getting to know a little bit of something about green space in the city. I went to high school in Minneapolis and then went to the University of Minnesota and came back and started working in our parks. I fell in love with the park and all of the possibilities that parks bring to life We were the place where people gathered, to commune with themselves, to commune with nature to commune with their community members, to learn a new skill to be healthy, all of the things that we talk about when we talk about a high quality of life happen in the parks. I began to realize parks and recreation can make a real difference in communities. We have some incredible programs that reach out to youth who need to be reached out to. Youth who may have some special needs to connect with community. Nite Owlz is a program where young people can have a safe place to play, a safe place to be. We also know how important it is for nutrition to be a part of the daily experience of young people so we provide free meals in our parks. We’re excited about these kinds of new initiatives that speak to parks really being the answer to a lot of issues that happen in our city [happy guitar] This year the Webber Natural Swimming Pool begins its third summer season. The 21,000-square-foot, 500,000-gallon pool doesn’t use any chlorine. Instead, water circulates through a network of filters and an adjacent regeneration basin where aquatic plants clean the water. The free public pool is the first of its kind in North America. It converts into an ice skating rink with free skate rentals over the winter. We also celebrated opening the Phillips Aquatics Center this spring, and gave out more than 2,000 free swimsuits as part of a summer swimsuit drive. Clean water is incredibly important to our mission. We’re proud to partner on clean water research projects, including an experimental filter at Shingle Creek and cutting-edge stormwater management system at the reconstructed Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Along the river, we’re putting the finishing touches on Hall’s Island, which was reconstructed this winter after it was connected to the shore by a lumberyard in the 1960s. The four-acre island will serve as a much-needed urban refuge for birds, mussels, turtles and other wildlife. We need to understand and respect our past to build a more equitable future. That’s why, after years of passionate debate, Minneapolis Parks advocated for the restoration of the Dakota name Bde Maka Ska to Lake Calhoun. Healthy lives support a healthy city. In fact, we have just finished six new solar projects at parks across the city and planted over 30,000 trees in the last three years. I’m so happy, finally, as I work in this park, to learn the incredible legacy that we have been given here in the City of Minneapolis. and we’re going to work really, really hard to continue that tradition of great parks in this wonderful city. So I’m proud to be a Minneapolitan. I’m proud of the fact that we have incredible parks for our people and that we have places where people can grow and learn and be and have great, great fun.

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