While our planned May 8 Next Generation of Parks event has been postponed due to COVID-19, our celebration of the past 10 years of wonderful events continues. In this month’s post, we share a stand-out article that first appeared in our 2018-2019 Annual Report, and features Jennifer Ringold, Deputy Superintendent at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Tom Fisher, Director of the Minnesota Design Center and Dayton Hudson Chair in Urban Design, and Sarah Duniway, Attorney at Lathrop GPM LLP (then Gray Plant Mooty) and vice-chair of our Minneapolis Parks Foundation Board of Directors.
As this post is published, it’s too early to say when Next Generation of Parks events will return. We so appreciate your support and attendance of the series over the years and look forward to seeing you all again as soon as possible! Until then, please enjoy our latest look back at the amazing 10 years that have made the Next Generation of Parks such an inspiring and foundational event.
Bold intersections and big ideas spark inspiring discussions at the Next Generation of Parks event series, starting its 10th season in 2019.
“The Next Generation of Parks series brings innovations in parks that are taking place around the world to our front door so we can learn about them together. The series broadens our local dialogue about parks and recreation as we envision or re-envision Minneapolis parks and recreation,” says Jennifer Ringold, Deputy Superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, who frequently brings new colleagues to attend the Minneapolis Parks Foundation’s Next Generation of Parks events. “The series is a valuable training resource that’s accessible, free, and leaves you with some food for thought.”
Sarah Duniway takes her dog for a run every day, but after hearing journalist Florence Williams speak at a recent Next Generation of Parks event, she’s decided to do it a little differently.
“We know that getting outdoors makes us happy, but after hearing Williams talk about her book The Nature Fix, I was inspired to change my route to make sure I go through a park and get a different dose of trees and nature every day,” says Duniway, a Minneapolis Parks Foundation board member and an attorney at Gray Plant Mooty. “Discoveries like that are what I love about these talks — they’re creative, they’re thought-provoking, and they’re also a little challenging, in a good way, when it comes to advancing the conversation about parks.”
That’s all part of the mission of the Next Generation of Parks event series, which enjoyed a record-setting attendance year in 2018 with a roster that also included creative placemaking artist Lily Yeh, Minneapolis Parks Fellow Bruce Chamberlain, Sabina Ali, a community parks activist in Toronto, and The Nature Fix author Florence Williams. Now set to begin its 10th season, the series is one of the ways the Parks Foundation works to bring forward fresh voices and new ideas about how to build parks for the future.
[Related Content: Find videos from past Next Generation of Parks events]
“If we’re going to continue being the number one park city in the country, we have to always be learning from others, and upping our game, and I think this series has helped bring a lot of attention to that,” says Tom Fisher, Director of the Minnesota Design Center, and an architecture professor at the University of Minnesota. Over the last decade, he says, topics in the series have reflected growing trends in the field, covering not just innovative park design, but also the ways that inventive public spaces can enhance mental health, for instance, or mitigate the effects of climate change.
“There’s a recognition that an investment in the parks isn’t just an investment in green space — it’s an investment in the health of people and in their community,” he says. “I think the series has broadened best practices as well as helped us to expand the conversation about what is a park.”
In some ways, the Next Generation of Parks series is the latest iteration of a conversation that started in Minneapolis back in 1872, when landscape architect Horace Cleveland came to give a lecture about the importance of preserving open spaces in the rapidly growing cities of the American west. His far-reaching vision was so inspiring that he was invited to share it with community leaders in St. Paul two days later, igniting a community-wide conversation that set the groundwork for the parks system we enjoy today, from the Grand Rounds to Como Park. In his Next Gen presentation this year, Parks Fellow Bruce Chamberlain helped bring the history of Minneapolis’s relationship to the Mississippi River up to date, exploring how the signature projects of the RiverFirst Initiative will fulfill the dreams of those early parks founders, finally linking every corner of the city through a continuous riverfront park system.
As the Minneapolis Parks Foundation looks ahead to the next decade of Next Generation of Parks events, Christine Moir, the Parks Foundation events manager who coordinates the series, says audiences can expect even wider-ranging discussions about what’s possible through the parks. “We had a really diverse group of speakers this year, which is one of the reasons the season was so successful,” she says, noting that nearly two-thirds of guests registered for the free events are new to the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. “We have evolved from inspiring conversations about design, to exploring the complex intersection of health, economics, creativity, and so much more. I would say the common theme that runs through all of these events is that parks touch all of us.”
Featured Image: The Parks Foundation frequently invites our partners to participate in roundtables or workshops with our Next Generation of Parks speakers, like this one at MCAD on healing through art with Lily Yeh. Hosting more intimate, deep-dive events like these is part of our mission to collaborate with community.