When the Minneapolis Parks Foundation looks back on 2020, I believe one simple, but positive outcome will be our merger with People for Parks and the establishment of the People for Parks Fund.
Announced in July, this consolidation is expanding how we deliver our mission of transforming lives through parks and public spaces and better aligning new investments with community aspirations. Ultimately, this new collaboration will widen support for Minneapolis parks through community-directed philanthropy.
The history of People for Parks extends back nearly 40 years and began with another systemic challenge facing our city – the loss of the Dutch Elm canopy that decimated many of our city streets and neighborhoods. Beyond its initial focus of restoring our urban forest, People for Parks has generated donations to support our parks for the last four decades with contributions to the Lake Harriet Band Shell, an accessible playground at Wabun Park, a nature playscape in North Mississippi Regional Park, pool features at Bethune Park, and swimming scholarships for youth across the city – just to name a few.
This fall, as the newly established People for Parks Fund Advisory Committee prepares for the 5th annual Poster for Parks Show, I am reminded of a fascinating story about a retired National Park Ranger who discovered and restored dozens of now commonly recognized National Park posters. Nearly lost to history, these posters were created through the Works Progress Administration part of the New Deal in an effort to engage and fund artists while celebrating the grandeur of America when the future seemed uncertain. These artistic gems capture a moment in our nation’s history and celebrate one of our most timeless assets – public parks.
Art has always had a relationship with parks and public lands – both as inspiration and as venue. The Poster for Parks Show was created in this tradition and is just one demonstration of how we hope to engage a wider audience to participate in generating new funds for our parks and distributing those funds to innovative and meaningful community purposes.
Going forward, I am thrilled by how the People for Parks Fund will both carry on a 40-year tradition of raising additional money for our parks while generating new ways for philanthropy to be delivered – like engaging local artists. If you are interested in becoming involved, we are seeking volunteers to join the People for Parks Fund Advisory Committee to ensure that it is truly community driven in both fundraising and investments. You can apply for a two-year term here.
And please join us on October 17th for a live, virtual happy hour, with DJ King Otto, where a new generation of park-inspired artwork created by local artists will be celebrated and available for sale for $45 each. All proceeds will be split between the artists and the People for Parks Fund.
It’s impossible to know how this year will ultimately be remembered by future generations, but I am confident parks will remain a critical pathway to health and prosperity. It is also clear to me that few things are as rewarding right now as contributing to a positive future by supporting our parks and the arts. Through the Poster for Parks show, you can support both together.
Featured image: 2019 Posters for Parks gallery