Join me in a broader vision for MPF
October 9, 2014 by Tom Evers
Hello, Friends –
It is an honor to be selected to serve as the Executive Director of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. Minneapolis’ and the entire region’s long-term health and economic vitality is dependent on our unmatched system of parks and continued investment in the parks that will serve our city and it’s people into the next century.
This work is personal for me. I have spent my career focused on either creating parks and protecting open space or delivering program that connects people through play and service. And even more personally, like many Minneapolis families, our family depends on our parks for so much of what makes our life splendid in Minneapolis – my kids participate in the park’s sports leagues and attend summer camps offered at the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board’s recreation centers. The Minneapolis system of parks and recreation centers is a key reason we choose to live in the city.
We don’t have to convince anyone in Minneapolis of the value parks bring to our lives. But it is imperative that the Minneapolis Parks Foundation engages all people at the neighborhood level in our efforts. There is a conversation occurring in our community around the pernicious Opportunity Gap that affects our communities of color. I believe the parks of the future – our parks – have an important a role to play providing all kids with opportunities that enrich their childhood and support their passions.
We owe every child in the city the opportunities to have access to programming that unlocks new passions in their local Park. We want families to engage with other families in the community through interactions prompted by thoughtful park design. We want our kids to know the Mississippi River as their own cherished river where they can find both community and solitude.
No matter what neighborhood or economic or cultural background,we owe children and families the chance to know and love their community through their parks and give them reasons to raise their family within the city limits because they can’t imagine leaving their neighborhood with its parks.
We have a vision for the Minneapolis Parks Foundation to be more than the sum of our projects. We want to be seen as a key partner in collaboration with the Minneapolis Park Board and other organizations with missions focused on improving our public commons from Downtown to the city’s edge. And we want to be thought leaders about how people connect with each other in our parks. Parks are the means to an end – not the end in themselves. They can be the catalyst for a healthy community and inspiring innovation.
We have all the pieces in place to succeed. We have a dedicated and talented Board. We have an engaged partner in the Minneapolis Park Board, and we have a committed team on staff to move a big vision forward. Even still, we can’t do this without you.
We cannot rest on the City’s international reputation – we need to continue to explore new and innovative ways parks can recreate our city for the next generation. What we are charged with is to develop a vision that is unimagined but transformational.
We want the Minneapolis Parks Foundation to become the catalyst for bringing out the best in our park system – creating new parks for the next generation, enhancing our existing and well-loved parks, and ensuring that we have a park system that serves all neighborhoods – north and south, east and west – while demonstrating the power of parks to re-create a city and to bring people together.