January is the month for fresh beginnings. This is especially true in Minneapolis with a new Mayor, City Council and Park Board of Commissioners poised to move our city forward. The Minneapolis Parks Foundation has never been in a better position to support a bold agenda for our city park system by aligning community vision and philanthropy.
Yet, to quote the philosopher Seneca (and local songwriter Dan Wilson), “Every new beginning is another beginning’s end.” One significant “beginning’s end” came with the resignation of Minneapolis Parks Superintendent Jayne Miller. In her seven-year tenure, Superintendent Miller pointed the Minneapolis Park Board and the park system in the right direction. She addressed some of the biggest challenges our community has faced, including elevating park operations to become a national model and securing funding to mitigate a 20-year backlog of neighborhood park needs. We wish her well and will remain grateful for her service to our community.
We are encouraged by the first steps being made by the new Park Board of Commissioners, especially their decision to enlist Mary Merrill to serve as Interim Superintendent. We are optimistic about the potential for finding a forward-thinking leader to advance the Minneapolis Park Board even further.
Change is also in the mix for the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. In December, Tom Paul was selected to become the new Parks Foundation Board Chair and five new Board members have selected to help guide our work. I am excited to have their perspectives and skills brought to our vision to create transformative parks. One of the most rewarding aspects of my role is to work with such a committed, generous, and skilled Board of Directors.
Finally, 2018 is the year we initiate construction at Water Works and connect North Minneapolis to downtown along the Mississippi River at the Great Northern Greenway River Link. We see new collaborations forged to accomplish a grand vision and we envision helping donors make a difference through their philanthropy.
Our community has always had big expectations for how parks and the public realm meet the grand challenges of our times and connect us to nature and each other. Our impact can be measured by construction of new park spaces, funds raised to transform existing parks and programming, and a widened perspective of what we should aspire to become. Your support this past year helps us continue to transform lives through parks and public space. Please join us for even more great things to come in 2018 – and thank you for your support.