Community Profile: Janelle Nivens

September 12, 2017 by Christine Moir

Each month we want to highlight members of our community who are supporting Minneapolis parks through their involvement with the Parks Foundation. We are constantly inspired by the people who care for and use our parks and we want to recognize the many individuals and organizations who make our system incredible through their generosity. Thank you!

This month, we hear from Janelle Nivens.


Tell us about a favorite childhood memory of being in a park (it doesn’t have to be in Minneapolis).
I grew up in a small town in Northwest Iowa and some of my favorite childhood memories were spent at our two parks – Hills Park and City Park. Just as the name suggests, Hills Park is hilly unlike the majority of the town’s flat landscape. As a kid, I loved running up and down the dirt trails which at the time seemed like mountain hiking. We had many community potlucks in the park’s shelters so I have a strong association of parks with delicious casseroles (I’m from Iowa, remember). When I was in high school we helped build a new playground at City Park. Being able to give back to my community in such a tangible way made a lifelong impact on me. It likely contributed to my connection to the Minneapolis Parks system as an adult.

What park experiences do/would you like to share with out-of-town guests?
We live near Minnehaha Creek so we take all of our out-of-town guests on the Grand Rounds walking path. It is particularly fun to walk across the Bryant Avenue Pedestrian Bridge and make our way to Lake Harriet with a stop at the Bandshell. In the summer, I love hanging out at the bandshell and love that we have a full schedule of movies and music in our parks.

Why do you support the Minneapolis Parks Foundation?
My husband and I support the Minneapolis Parks Foundation because we’re excited about the core strategies. We spend a lot of time on the Mississippi River and look forward to seeing the transformation of the Upper Mississippi Riverfront. I like that MPF involves other Minneapolis organizations I admire and support such as Juxtaposition Arts.

Why are parks important to Minneapolis?
The Minneapolis parks system is an important part of the wellbeing of our city. In addition to adding beauty to our neighborhoods, they enhance our quality of life by acting as a gathering place. Parks play an important role in the future our city in terms of climate change and equity. I’m excited about some innovative ideas that current and future leaders have for our parks.

Trails, beaches or playgrounds?
Trails, definitely trails. One my favorite Minneapolis parks experiences was walking the Grand Rounds trail loop in one day.

Featured image: Courtesy Janelle Nivens

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