2016 in review

January 5, 2017 by Tom Evers

We believe in the power of parks to transform human life. That’s why we continue to focus on the following core strategies that help us create more opportunities to connect people to the natural world and each other.

Envisioning and advancing the next generation of parks

  • The Parks Foundation’s leadership of the RiverFirst Capital Campaign continues to accelerate, with more than $10M of the $15M goal secured or committed.
  • In January 2016, we celebrated the generous support of General Mills for the RiverFirst Campaign. Their $3 million donation was a birthday gift to our city in honor of General Mills’ 150-year anniversary of the company’s founding. This gift will lead directly to the creation of the Water Works site, a new link for North Minneapolis to the Mississippi River, and the future Hall’s Island park. This gift is a demonstration of General Mills’ generational philanthropic commitment to Minneapolis.
  • We also continue to gain momentum on the Water Works project. In 2016, we selected a design team led by Damon Farber Landscape Architects and HGA Architects to complete schematic design by March 2017.
  • Plans are underway to begin work on Water Works in 2017 with the deconstruction of the historic Fuji-Ya building and restoration of the historic mill ruins on which it sits.
  • The Parks Foundation is championing the small but pivotal site known as the Great Northern Greenway River Link, at 26th Ave N and the Mississippi River. The site is a critical piece in the “missing link” of the Grand Rounds in North Minneapolis and breaking through at this location will be a transformative connection to Downtown and NE from the Northside, as well as open the Upper Riverfront as a city-wide amenity.
  • In 2016, our Minneapolis Parks Fellow, Bruce Chamberlain, played a significant role in partnership with the Minneapolis Park Board and the City of Minneapolis, establishing the process for identifying a development partner for the Upper Harbor Terminal. Once selected, the development team will work with the community to shape the idea to best fit the community and city needs.

Leading community conversations

  • In 2016, the Parks Foundation brought underrepresented voices to the RiverFirst planning process by commissioning Juxtaposition Arts’ Environmental Design Studio for community engagement and park design. The Enviro Studio, as it’s known, is home to more than a dozen youth apprentices – most from North Minneapolis – who were immersed and took the lead in a nine-month design process for the Great Northern Greenway River Link and Upper Harbor Terminal.
  • Hundreds of community members explored the intersection of parks and the environment, health, and equity through our Next Generation of Parks™ event series with talks by international award winning architect, Leila Araghian, as well as Detroit City Planner, Maurice Cox.

Championing Minneapolis parks

  • In 2016, with your help, we provided philanthropic support to ensure every citizen has access to great parks in their own neighborhood through the neighborhood parks levy initiative.
  • We commissioned award-winning photojournalist Stephanie Glaros to complete a special summer-long profile series of neighborhood parks visitors. Her 15 stories compellingly illustrate the ways in which Minneapolis parks play a critical role in the everyday lives of our friends, family and neighbors.
  • Through a generous donation from Barbara Lupient and her family, the Parks Foundation supported city-wide swim lessons scholarships, junior lifeguard training, and an additional water feature for the Jim Lupient Water Park. With this donation, hundreds of youth have better swimming opportunities through Minneapolis Parks.
  • We helped ensure access to outdoor adventures year-round, for all ages, through a $5,000 contribution to The Loppet Foundation’s Trailhead in Theodore Wirth Park campaign.

Recognizing Partnerships

We are grateful for the role that collaboration plays in helping achieve our strategic goals in 2016. We’d like to thank the following agencies for their partnership:

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

City of Minneapolis • Friends of the Mississippi River • Juxtaposition Arts
Minneapolis Institute of Arts • Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership
Minnesota Public Radio • Mississippi Watershed Management Organization
University of Minnesota, Department of Landscape Architecture • Walker Art Center

In 2016, we welcomed the following community leaders to our Board of Directors: Paul Bauknight, Urban Homeworks; Barbara Bencini, Meryl Lynch Global Wealth Management; Sarah Duniway, Gray Plant Mooty; Meg Forney, Minneapolis Park Board Commissioner (ex officio); Dayna Frank, First Avenue; Jacob Frey, Minneapolis City Council Member; Jocelyn Hale, MillerHale Associates; Mark Heithoff, Mark Heithoff Photography; Steve King, Landscape Structures; Rich Varda, Target Corp.; Riff Yeager, ERM.

Last, but by no means least, we want to express our gratitude for our donors and volunteers. The considerable advances the Parks Foundation made in 2016 were only possible because of your generous support. Thank you!

Happy New Year,

Executive Director

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