What would your mother say?

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February 15, 2010 // UPDATED 8:47 am - February 15, 2010
By: Sarah harris
Sarah harris
Dec. 31 marked the six month anniversary of services starting in the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District. As I was looking at our overall results I was pleased with the impact we have made in such a short period of time.

To name just a few: 480,000 pounds of trash removed, almost 40,000 pedestrians assisted and more than 10 lives saved.

We continue to get great feedback from Downtown employees, visitors, residents, etc. They comment on the condition of Downtown being better than they have seen in years. They acknowledge our ambassadors by name as they re-tell their story of being assisted. And, they lobby for the continuance of the program.

I am struck by the trash statistic: 480,000 pounds of trash? What on earth was it doing on the sidewalks in the first place? I challenge us all to remember that this Downtown is ours to enjoy — but that means it is also ours to care for. Sure, the Clean Team Ambassadors are part of that equation, but I’d love to be able to focus them more on special projects like weed control, pressure washing and infrastructure maintenance and less on needing to pick up trash. In spring of 2010 we will be placing more trash containers throughout the district — so it should be even easier for us all to keep Downtown clean.

One of the feedback forms we received commented on how the cleaner and friendlier atmosphere was the “return to civility” that Downtown needed. We have found a way to emulate good old fashioned common sense. Caring about the condition of where we live and taking time to appreciate and assist our fellow citizens. What would our mothers say? I think they would be proud.


Ambassador Profile: Marilyn


Marilyn is part of the original group of ambassadors that started with the DID in July 2009. She has always lived within 15 minutes of Downtown and loves the arts, fine dining and music offered here.

So, when she saw an ad seeking friendly people who love Downtown and like to walk a lot, she was compelled to apply. “They’re asking for me,” she said. “This is who I am.” Marilyn enjoys the interaction with people and the sincere gratitude they show for her help. One of her fellow ambassadors commented that she makes a great team leader because she’s a good listener and observer who knows how to motivate others and is always ready to help.  

The most memorable experience that Marilyn has had so far, was when a 13-year-old boy, who looked very young for his age, was lost Downtown. It seems he went too far on his bus and didn’t know what to do. He was shivering and scared. As a mother of three, Marilyn knew how frightening this experience was for him. And, she knew what to do. She waited with him for the return bus. She asked for his address and verified that he had a key to get into his house once there (no one answered when she tried to call home for him). Then she spoke with the bus driver to make sure the young man wouldn’t miss his stop on the way home. She also insisted that the youngster call her when he arrived home safe and sound. He did, and it made her day to know that she helped in a meaningful way. That’s why she enjoys being an ambassador. Marilyn gives a beaming smile when she recalls the comment received from another pedestrian she assisted: “I hope you’re proud of what you do!” As a parent myself, I’m glad to know that Marilyn and her fellow ambassadors are there for any child — or person — who needs help. Our mothers and fathers would be proud.

Sarah Harris is the chief operating officer of the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making Downtown a clean, safe, green and vibrant place to be.