Design Q&A: JXTA apprentices Keanu and Pheng (part 2 of 2)

December 1, 2017 by Janette Law

This is the second post in a two-part series in which we’re excerpting four Q&As from a Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA) Environmental Design Studio apprentice-produced “zine” about their summer 2017 experiences. (Read the first post.) We partnered with JXTA on youth community engagement and design around future RiverFirst parks at Upper Harbor Terminal and the Great Northern Greenway River Link.

We hope you enjoy hearing these apprentices’ stories – and be sure to check out the zine for more of the apprentices’ design ideas and engagement activities. You can also learn more about our summer partnership by watching JXTA’s opening presentation for our October 2017 Next Generation of Parks event.


Keanu Vang, age 18

Did you know about the site prior to joining JXTA?
Keanu Vang: As a local fisherman, I fish at the Mississippi River quite often. I fish from North Mississippi Regional park all the way to Downtown. I pass by the Upper Harbor Terminal Site regularly. I’ve seen the site being unused for a few years now and thought why couldn’t it be connected to the North Mississippi Regional Park and accessible to the public?

What would you like to see at the UHT site?
KV: As someone who regularly bikes by, I can’t wait for a path to connect North Mississippi Regional park to Ole Olson Park. I don’t like going around the site to get to the next park. I’d like one long trail connecting the parks along the Mississippi and a long walkway/dock along the shore for people and bikers.

Has joining JXTA deepened your understanding of the site?
KV: Then I happened to work at JXTA Arts which is working on the site. Here, I learned what the site was used for and development plans.I was stoked when I heard we were in the planning process of the site.

Pheng Xiong, age 18

How did you feel after seeing 26th Ave on the Mississippi side?
Pheng Xiong: Looking at 26th Ave on the Mississippi side, I was stunned by the emptiness that was there. Such a sight that borders the river does not belong there. The Enviro lab has designed a rendering of a vision that is believed to be a better version of the sight. We recommend more green areas including possibly a greenhouse or garden, with a few benches, and night lights, as it would be more inviting and comforting for the people of North Minneapolis to view the Mississippi and hang out in the area.

What have you learned in Enviro since joining?
PX: Being in JXTA’s Enviro lab, my eyes have opened to what the Northside really looks like. I do not go outdoors as often, and there were places that I almost did not know had existed, such as the Upper Harbor Terminal and the length of 26th Ave. I also became aware of how the parks were not as attractive to people in North Minneapolis anymore. The redevelopment and opening of the Great Northern Greenway will be an attraction in North Minneapolis. Knowing that a bike path is being built on this street so near me, gives me a bigger trail to bike.

How did this lab prepare you for college?
PX: Before I started this program, I had an idea of how Photoshop works, but now my skills have progressed exponentially. The skills I learned in Enviro were extremely helpful and will be of great use, especially when I become an animation major at Augsburg College.

Profile image courtesy JXTA

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