Each March, Minneapolis Parks transition from a winter wonderland to a summer playground. This unheralded but critical transition can occur in a matter of days: Our parks go from serving winter-based recreation requiring ice rinks, ski trails and warming houses, to a system teeming with joggers, bikers, playgrounds and beaches. This seasonal transformation is just one example of the complexities in our Minneapolis park system.
There are many ways our park system can be categorized. Beyond winter and summer seasons, Minneapolis has neighborhood and regional parks, passive and active uses, and ballparks and bike trails, to list just a few. Regardless of how one might identify elements and aspects of our parks system – we are blessed that it is a single system that strives to serve everyone.
The Minneapolis Parks Foundation is committed to the whole system – the existing and much-loved parks and trails as well as future parks and public green spaces – what we call the Next Generation of Parks. We believe that regardless of where you live or visit – it is important to have access to both your neighborhood park and bold new regional parks. We strive for a Minneapolis Park system that is used by all – and one that is routinely recognized as world-class year round.
One of our goals is to convene conversations that celebrate what exists while imagining new definitions and purposes for parks. Last week, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation announced the next round of the Next Generation of Parks Lecture Series. Beginning in April and running through September, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation will host international park leaders as they explore topics that are important to the whole system. This year our leading topics are Equity and Youth Engagement, Health and Wellness, and Designed Ecosystems.
Our first Lecture is in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Nature 3.x Symposium – a two-day exploration of humans’ impact on nature and nature’s evolving impact on the built environment. The keynote lecture on Friday April 17th will be given by Kate Orff, the 2014 Buckminster Fuller Prize winner for her Living Breakwaters project in New York and the landscape designer for the future Minneapolis Water Works site. Ms. Orff will be discussing her work addressing impacts of climate change through landscape design.
Registration is free and open to the public through the Nature 3.x website. The seats are limited – so please sign up and participate in this vibrant symposium.
The following two Next Generation of Parks Lectures will be just as inspiring. On June 25th we will be hosting University of Minnesota College of Design Dean Tom Fisher, Juxtaposition Arts Founder, Roger Cummings, and Kristine Miller of the University of Minnesota’s College of Landscape Architecture as they have an open conversation about designing parks for equity and authentically engaging the next generation of Minneapolitans in creating future parks and public spaces.
And on September 17th, Gil Penalosa, founder of 8-80 Cities, will back to discuss the critical need to connect our neighborhoods through parks and trails. This is of particular importance in our city as we reimagine the Mississippi River and it’s connections to communities in North and Northeast Minneapolis.
Minneapolis is defined by our park system: It always has been and always will be. It is our vision at the Minneapolis Parks Foundation to work with our members, the Park Board, the City and the private sector to strive to bring forth the best system imaginable for the whole city. Please join us as we bring this imagination to life.
*The 2015 Next Generation of Parks™ Lecture Series is made possible by the Major Sponsorship of Whole Foods Market and is produced with support from The Cynthia Froid Group and HGA Architects and Engineers.