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Community Profile: Mike Vennewitz

Mike Vennewitz and Rep. Diane Loeffler are the newest members of Minneapolis Park Foundation’s Heritage Oak Society. The Heritage Oak Society is our way of sharing our appreciation for supporters who have included the Minneapolis Parks Foundation in their estate plans. Mike also made a generous contribution in honor of his wife to the RiverFirst Campaign effort. Diane was in her 8th term representing Northeast Minneapolis in the State House when she passed away in 2019. In addition to being a dedicated advocate for her district and all of Minneapolis, Diane was a champion of Mississippi Riverfront greening. 

I had the opportunity to visit with Mike and take him on a tour of the two RiverFirst projects that opened in May 2021 – Water Works at Mill Ruins Park and the 26th Ave N Overlook (where he’s pictured). He was nice enough to participate in our five questions quiz … Thanks, Mike!!

Tell us about a favorite childhood park-related memory.
I grew up in Fargo and we had a huge park just a block from my house. It was a wonderful escape. The sledding and playground are my most prominent memories of that park. But, you know, like all kids, we’d horse around and do stupid things there too.

What park experiences do you like to share with out-of-town guests?
Well, I have not had the opportunity to visit much with out-of-town guests these days…however, I think my favorite area to show off is right here in the central riverfront area – the famous Mississippi River…with the falls and the lock and dam. 

Why do you support the Minneapolis Parks Foundation?
I love parks. But that is a selfish answer. Parks should be a part of the fabric of life for everyone. They are free. They are accessible. And kids need nature – all kids, especially those whose parents don’t have the resources to take them on vacation.

Why are parks important to Minneapolis?
You know, Minneapolis has a really rich park history. Parks are a unique and important part of what allows Minneapolis to thrive.

Trails, beaches or playgrounds?
Hmmm, as a former oceanographer, do I need to say beaches?! It actually goes back to those favorite childhood memories – playgrounds!

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