2016 JXTA group paddles up

JXTA apprentices reflect on first RiverFirst parks & connections tour

July 13, 2016 by Janette Law

On June 29, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation (MPF) and Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA) completed our first “tour de North.” About fifteen youth apprentices in JXTA’s Environmental Design Studio undertook an 8-mile bike ride and 3-mile paddle to better understand existing conditions along the Mississippi River and connections from Northside neighborhoods to it.

The tours (a second event is scheduled for August) are the centerpiece of a summer-long youth engagement program through which JXTA apprentices will provide their observations and design ideas for future RiverFirst parks sites and connections, including the 26th Ave N Trail Link & Pier and Upper Harbor Terminal.

By design, the program – which is made possible through a Minnesota Twins Community Fund Grant – is responsive and inclusive. JXTA apprentices, under the tutelage of instructors Sam Ero-Phillips and Coal Dorius, can adapt the process to new opportunities and invite in individuals and community organizations. Joining on the first tour and continuing involvement were Alexis Pennie, a community leader who’s with Redeemer Center for Life, the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership, and Above the Falls (just to name three groups), and Kendrick Dwight, of Redeemer’s Venture North. We can’t thank Alexis and Kendrick enough for being present, participating and connecting. The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board’s Youthline program will also contribute through a JXTA apprentice-led design workshop.

Below, a few JXTA apprentices reflect on the first tour. Stay tuned to our blog and social media channels for more updates soon.

“I thought the biking and kayaking trip was fun and interesting. It was a lot of work biking all that because I am not used to it. Other than that, I say it was interesting to see the [North Minneapolis] greenway [demonstration project], I have never seen it or heard of it before. Seeing the different parks was also good because they may need help to rebuild the parks. Also, what was most interesting to me was that I didn’t realize how much and toxins being left in the river because of the metal and waste plants. It was interesting to see that the kayaking tour because that is something I didn’t realize was happening to our river. It would be cool to help find a solution, like a filtration system right on the river for it.”

“Going from park to park was cool, I got to see some parks that didn’t know about. Then going to the Mississippi, and going on the water was the best. We got to see things that you could never see just standing on the side. The biking part was something I thought I could never do, seeing all the plants and then the hill made me feel good that I did it. I really want to do that again.”

“On the trip I liked the bikes that we used and the people we biked with. I also enjoyed the parks we visited and seeing how much they’ve progressed and not progressed. I didn’t like how much uphill biking it was, but I know that’s almost unavoidable, but it was tiring.”

“I like the beginning of the trip with biking. The first park we went by was cool. It had a nice pool, nice park space for kids, big field for sports. The second park was good, it had a nice basketball court.”

“I liked the kayaking the most. It was the best part of the engagement. The biking was really tiring. I didn’t like going up the hills at all. Although, it was cool seeing the Greenway and all the parks. Seeing the land that’s to be developed at a different [perspective] was amazing. Got to see more into it.”

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