A green leader

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January 31, 2011
By: Sarah harris
Sarah harris
//  A spotlight on Thrivent Financial for Lutherans //

The Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID) is charged with a mission — to make Downtown cleaner, safer, greener and better.

Even though the ground is currently frozen, spring is right around the corner, so DID is turning the public’s attention to greening the city, and the important role everyone can play to make Minneapolis lush, vibrant and inviting for all who live, work and play here year-round.  

Earlier this month, the DID hosted an event to highlight the multiple ways greening can improve a city. Why does this a matter? Being outdoors is in our DNA. Every day of the year we walk, bike and run around the lakes. And a summer swim is almost as invigorating as game of hockey. Not only is being outdoors in a natural, green, beautiful space part of our culture, studies show that productiveness increases in a more natural environment as well.

So we want to soften the gray edges of the city and make the public realm welcome people Downtown to work, gather, attend outdoor events, meet and greet their colleagues, relax and enjoy.

To make this happen, everyone has a role, whether a property owner, a resident or Downtown employee. There are many ways to make an impact. Advocate for greener spaces with employers, property owners or local government. Put pots or hanging baskets in front of your business. Plant the unused corners of your parking lots.  Everyone can help. If every terrace in a residential or commercial tower were planted with lush, cascading plants — the building would be transformed and the entire community would benefit.

The Jan. 11 event included the first Greening Awards ceremony presented by DID and its Greening Committee, spearheaded by committee chair David Wilson, managing partner at Accenture. In opening the ceremony, he spoke to the ability of greening to transform the whole experience of being Downtown.

The DID awards program was developed to celebrate those who have created and maintained green spaces that help to enhance the public realm of downtown Minneapolis. It is our hope that, by raising awareness about these contributions to the greening of Downtown, others will start to imagine and act upon the possibilities at their own locations.

Nine businesses and organizations were recognized at the DID award ceremony for their urban greening efforts. In future issues, look for our recognition of these winners as we highlight what their attention to the public realm has accomplished for everyone who enjoys Downtown. The DID Greening Awards will be juried annually and in 2011 will recognize both summer and winter greening achievements.

Whether small or large, greening projects can transform an environment. From parks and plazas that provide spaces for people to gather to storefront greening that visually cue pedestrians to take a stroll. DID will continue to do its part with summer and winter plantings, but we also believe our work includes helping everyone to transform downtown into a beautiful outdoor city.

Award Profile

This issue recognizes Thrivent Financial for winning the “Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District’s 2010 Greening Award for Best Parking Lot Greening.”   

Ordinarily, surface parking lots are a major factor contributing to the lack of green in Downtown. These vast surfaces deaden the space they occupy and detract from the pedestrian experience.  

However, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans has demonstrated along its lot on 5th Avenue that softening the edges with landscaping makes a huge positive impact.  A simple fence, trees, and native low maintenance plants screen the lot, and soften an otherwise gray area. Imagine the pleasant walk to the riverfront if every surface lot in the Downtown area followed Thrivent’s lead and paid attention to the edges.