Community Profile: Jasmine Russell

March 18, 2019 by Janette Law

We regularly highlight members of our community who are supporting parks through their involvement with the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. We’re 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’re featuring Jasmine Russell, who joined our Board of Directors in January. Jasmine is co-founder of Monicat Data, a St. Paul-based provider of data management and technology solutions for the creative economy, along with Fourth Wall, a Twin Cities rehearsal space innovator.

If you listen to MPR, you may have heard Jasmine on the radio; if you’ve been to TEDxMinneapolis, you probably saw her on stage; and if you’ve hiked anywhere on Lake Superior’s North Shore, you likely walked the same trail. We caught up with Jasmine (no easy feat!) on a rainy morning in March.

Tell us about a favorite childhood memory of being in a park (it doesn’t have to be in Minneapolis).

I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and have always been an outdoorsy person. Growing up, I was a competitive track and field athlete, so many days you would find me either at the track or the park, running around and enjoying the outdoors.

After completing graduate school in Indiana, I moved to Minnesota and I was taken aback by the amount of trees and green – and access to water! It’s something people here can almost take for granted, what access to nature can do for you.

When I met my fiancé three years ago, we really bonded over our shared love of the outdoors. We try go camping or cabining at least once a month. For me, parks and nature are essential to our well-being.

What Minneapolis park experiences do/would you like to share with out-of-town guests?

I’m a big fan of Powderhorn – it’s people, history, and culture. I feel a real connection to the people of Powderhorn and the events the community has created, like May Day, that bring people together. Minnehaha is always beautiful with the river and creek; it’s probably the best place to go for a hike and feel like you can get lost in the outdoor trail and escape from the city. I also love Lake Harriet’s scenic Rose Garden.

Why do you support the work of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation?

Parks are central to our well-being and I’m excited to support the work of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, whether it’s philanthropy, programming, or long-term park development. Parks are at the core of what people need to release and get away; parks should be protected and I’m excited to be in those conversations.

How are parks important to the fabric of the community?

Being here for five years now, I realized that parks are not something that many people think about—they’re almost ingrained into the everyday fabric of Minnesota living. Certain parks are louder than others, like they each of a different personality – some have baseball fields, others are really green or fully wooded.

Parks are a bridge between people and even cities. Even if you’re from Minneapolis, you’ve probably been to Como Park in St. Paul. And the Mississippi River and park right next to the Guthrie makes nature a part of your nightlife. People here have really come to expect that parks will be part of their lives.

Trails, beaches, or playgrounds?

With where I am in my life right now, I’m trails all the way. You can really get lost on trails in the sense that you can get away. When we got hiking or camping, it’s no phones, watches, internet.

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