Minneapolis. December 11, 2017—You’ve witnessed it. Perhaps you’ve even experienced the need to buy a plastic do-dad-that-doesn’t-actually-s
Especially during this time of year, we want all of our loved ones to feel cherished and to make all of their dreams come true. But let’s stop for a minute and rethink this notion. With nearly 7.6 billion people on the planet using more resources than ever before, does the afore-mentioned gift really say, “I love you?” It could be argued that it says quite the opposite—especially to the future generations.
Maybe you’d like to give a gift with lasting value—one that can help feed future generations and keep water clean. The kind of gift your great-great-grandchildren would feel generations later. But who could ever pull off such a life-changing gift?
Answer: The Harrison Neighborhood Association in North Minneapolis along with Metro Blooms, Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission, the Metropolitan Council and many other partners. Last summer their “Blooming Boulevards” project turned the little strips of earth between the sidewalks and streets into pollinator-friendly landscaping designed to prevent water pollution.
The impetus for the project came from city plans to cut down ash trees on the boulevards. Metro Blooms, a local nonprofit, looked at the raised, hard-packed ground beneath the trees and saw an opportunity. At the time, rainwater and melting snow ran off, collecting city dirt as it flowed down sidewalks and streets into public sewers that emptied into and polluted nearby Bassett Creek. Why not sow the seeds for a community-based program to beautify the boulevards, create habitat for bees and other pollinators, and divert storm water all at the same time?
The way to do this was to create a slight depression and put in deep-rooted plants—many native—chosen for their hardiness, ability to find their own water, and for their attractiveness to pollinators. Instead of flowing away, storm water infiltrates into the ground. The plants take in some water. The rest is cleaned naturally as it filtered through the earth. Some of the boulevards were seeded with mow-able pollinator-friendly grasses such as fescues or a bee-lawn mix.
The locally-sourced workforce for installing the landscaping also provided summer jobs for youth. Hennepin County Green Partners trained youth workers during installs. Other local contractors that worked on the project included the Northside Economic Opportunity Network, Wilderness Inquiry, Minneapolis STEP-UP, and the Conservation Corps of Minnesota. Nearby Utepils Brewing organized planting drives through its volunteering club.
Blooming Boulevards grew from the first demonstration project at Redeemer Lutheran Church to 37 boulevard sites in the neighborhood, totaling 10,825 square feet of pollinator and clean water habitat.
Community participation is a key part of the project, which is designed to build resilience and to promote equitable development and environmental justice in this Near North community. Metro Blooms has been intentional about involving residents to ensure that they benefit from the investments that funding partners are making. The next phase of the Northside Neighborhood Engagement & Opportunities in Clean Water Initiatives (NNEOCWI) involves working with commercial and institutional property owners in the Glenwood Corridor.
“I am excited and impressed by the enthusiasm of the Harrison Neighborhood residents in working on this project! This project presented a perfect intersection of neighborhood improvements, environmental empowerment, and workforce development to realize change that will last for many years,”
said Laura Jester, Basset Creek Watershed Management Commission Administrator.
It’s true. This type of gift isn’t easy to wrap or put under a tree, but if your loved ones already have enough and you are wondering what kind of place-holder gift to give, consider a gift that will be felt for generations by supporting projects like these. Or, take the pledge to plant at bluethumb.org/pledge and start your own legacy.
Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission is a local unit of government focused on protecting water comprised of the nine cities that drain to Bassett Creek. BCWMC is a member of the West Metro Water Alliance.www.bassettcreekwmo.org.
Contact the District Administrator, Laura Jester at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 952-270-1990 for more information. PROJECT PHOTOS AVAILABLE!