This April marks two anniversaries for Minneapolis parks: 140 years ago, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board was established as the first democratically governed public agency responsible for the planning, programming, and operations of a city park system. And 20 years ago, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation was established as an independent, nonprofit philanthropic partner for the Minneapolis Park System.
Organizational anniversaries are only as meaningful as their mission and the people they serve. Coinciding with our 20th anniversary, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation has updated our strategic plan to guide our efforts and strengthen philanthropic support for the whole Minneapolis Park system.
Great parks make great neighborhoods, and great neighborhoods weave together into great cities. While celebrating all the varied benefits of Minneapolis’s nationally renowned and locally treasured system, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation plan will focus on elevating the capacity of our parks to deliver the following outcomes:
- Advance equity and cultural inclusion: When all people have access to valued parks and public spaces, feel welcome, and see themselves reflected in those spaces, a community is healthier, safer, and happier.
- Foster community health and well-being: Parks provide healthy air, water, and soil, and places to play and exercise, on both the individual and community level. Parks also provide places where we can learn about our neighbors and form new and deeper connections.
- Deepen connections to the natural world: In our increasingly urbanized world, maintaining places of natural beauty, respite, and awe helps us maintain our humanity.
- Strengthen climate change resiliency: Cities must adapt and develop new methods to protect and restore natural systems and clean water and to mitigate the economic impact of climate change.
- Spark economic vitality: Thriving parks and public spaces can attract investment and bring prosperity to the broader community without causing displacement.
Our city’s parks have become a treasured asset over the 140 years of the Minneapolis Park Board. And while there remains more work to help ensure the park system is equitable and serves all corners of our city well, people are increasingly recognizing parks can – and must – be designed and programmed to make our city healthier and more inclusive. At their best, parks advance social cohesion and lead to equitable communities, safety, economic opportunity, climate resilience, and opportunities for youth. The Minneapolis Parks Foundation must grow in sync with community expectations for great parks and help bring additional philanthropic investment toward our shared goals for the park system. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing more details about how we will accomplish our goals together.
We will need to grow to achieve our goals and invite people to join this effort. We will need to engage with a community of individuals who believe a robust, democratic and equitable park system is a necessary and vital ingredient to a healthy, thriving, and connected Minneapolis and region. And we will need to grow in a manner that more truly reflects the cultural richness of Minneapolis.
Ultimately, we hope that by the time the Minneapolis park system celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2033, Minneapolis parks will be widely recognized as a philanthropic priority in our community. We’re grateful for the many donors who are already on this path with us. If you haven’t already, please consider joining us with a gift today. Thank you!
If you’re interested in learning more, please join us at one of our many events in the coming months to learn how you might get involved, support our parks, and become part of our story in the decades to come.