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News Release: You Are Welcome Here: NYC’s Mitch Silver Kicks off 2019-20 Next Gen Event Series


10th Anniversary Season Begins Thursday, October 10, at University of Minnesota, Presented by Minnesota Public Radio News

You Are Welcome Here: How New York City is Planning for a New Future Through Parks

New York City Parks Commissioner and one of the “100 Most Influential Urbanists,” Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, debuts the 2019-2020 Next Generation of Parks Event Series, with interviewer Brandt Williams of MPR

Minneapolis, Minn. – “People may eat and sleep in their homes and apartments,” Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, Commissioner of New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, has said. “But they live in the public realm.” Silver kicks off the Minneapolis Parks Foundation’s 2019-2020 Next Generation of Parks Event Series with insights into how New York is (literally) taking down barriers and re-creating its parks and public realm to bring the community together. Silver’s talk will take place on Thursday, October 10, at the University of Minnesota, Rapson Hall, at 7:00pm. Tickets are free and reservations are recommended via Eventbrite.

In 2014, the City of New York launched the $285 million Community Parks Initiative, which reinvests in historically underfunded neighborhoods that have higher concentrations of poverty, are densely populated, or rapidly growing. In his talk, Silver – who is president-elect of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a former president of the American Planning Association, and a native New Yorker – will share with the Twin Cities how New York is concentrating on four critical aspects of parks: Swapping out asphalt for greenspace, planning for an aging population and multi-generational use, seamlessly integrating the public realm through Parks Without Borders, and leveraging parks as “the first line of defense” in climate change. With the goal of fully re-imagining 67 parks, New York has already broken ground on more than 35 projects, all with a thoughtful approach that brings diverse and traditionally underheard voices into the process.

“Mitch Silver is a dynamic speaker whose leadership in New York is the capstone on a career that’s seen him transform communities from Raleigh, NC, to Washington D.C.,” says Tom Evers, Executive Director of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. “As Minneapolis and cities throughout the metropolitan area seek to equitably invest in our parks, connecting people to nature, adapting to a changing climate, and supporting community health, Silver has a lot to share with us about the value of inclusion, planning for a new future, and thinking about who truly benefits from parks.”

About the 10th Anniversary Season
The Next Generation of Parks premiered in 2010 as a landscape design-centric lecture series and “envisioning process initiated by the Minneapolis Parks Foundation to engage citizens in imagining the future of our parks system.” Today, the series has evolved to embrace the complexities of parks and the public realm, exploring the intersections of equity, access, climate, culture, and health. Throughout this season, the Parks Foundation will feature clips and interviews with past speakers and passionate attendees, culminating with a free, public celebration following the season’s last talk, May 7, 2020.

This 10th Anniversary Next Generation of Parks season continues in 2020 with:

Marla Spivak, MacArthur Fellow, University of Minnesota Bee Lab
Details: Thursday, February 27, 2020, 7:00pm, Walker Art Center
Topic: Importance of urban green space for pollinators
Partner: Presented in partnership with the Walker Art Center

Marla Spivak is a MacArthur Fellow, McKnight Distinguished Professor in Entomology at the University of Minnesota, and founder of the U’s Spivak Honey Bee Lab. Her research efforts focus on protecting and enhancing the health and diversity of bees. and propagating floral rich and pesticide-free landscapes to support pollinators.  

Dr. Craig L. Wilkins, Architect & Planner, University of Michigan
Details: Thursday, May 7, 2020, location/time TBA
Topic: Community engagement in design

Architect, author, academic and activist, Dr. Craig L. Wilkins serves on the faculty at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. A 2017 Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum National Design Award winner, his design work has been featured in such publications as the Washington Post, Miami Herald, Houston Chronicle, The Atlantic, and Fast Company. His critical essays and commentary have been published in the Journal of Architectural Education, International Review of African American Art, Art South Africa, Volume, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Detroit News among others. A 2010 Kresge Artist Fellow, the former director of the Detroit Community Design Center is the author of “The Aesthetics of Equity: Notes on Race, Space, Architecture & Music” (University of Minnesota 2007), “Ruffneck Constructivist” (Dancing Foxes Press/ICA 2014) and “Diversity Among Architects: From Margin to Center” (Routledge 2016) as well as co-editor of “Activist Architecture: A Field Guide to Community-Based Practice” (DCDC Publications 2015). The creative director of the Wilkins Project, he is a 2020 Spatial Justice Fellow at the University of Oregon of Architecture & Environment. 

Thank You to Our 2019-2020 Sponsors
The 2019-2020 season of the Next Generation of Parks events is presented by Minnesota Public Radio and is produced in partnership with the Walker Art Center and the University of Minnesota Department of Landscape Architecture.

About the Minneapolis Parks Foundation
The Minneapolis Parks Foundation transforms human lives through parks and public spaces by aligning philanthropic investment and community vision. Since 2003, the Parks Foundation has raised more than $20 million for transformative parks projects in Minneapolis. Currently, the Parks Foundation co-leads the RiverFirst Initiative with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and is responsible for private fundraising and implementation of the Water Works and Great Northern Greenway River Link projects. The Parks Foundation also supports innovative Minneapolis parks projects, including Little Free Libraries® at all recreation centers, through equity funding, and champions world-class design through its Next Generation of Parks™ Event Series. Learn more at

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