Downtown improvement district

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May 23, 2011
By: Sarah harris
Sarah harris
A Downtown barn raising

Similar to the barn-raisings of old that played a pivotal role in bringing the community together around a common need, the Loring Greenway Association has coalesced goodwill and a sense of communal benefit by enabling neighbors to gather, plant, tend and enjoy the beauty of this important connection between Downtown and Loring Park and beyond. The Greenway also happens to be the backyard to some 6,500 residents in the Loring Park area. Talk to any one of the many volunteers and you will be immediately struck by their enthusiasm for the neighborhood and for their neighbors.

In January, the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID) celebrated the Loring Greenway Association’s esprit-de-corps by selecting its beautification of the Greenway to receive the 2010 Greening Award for Community Involvement.    

We were truly inspired.  So much so, that DID has since developed a volunteer program to create more “barn-raising” opportunities that inspire Downtown stakeholders to get involved in the larger Downtown neighborhood.  

This summer, we are offering opportunities for volunteers to assist in a variety of projects Downtown. From planting and tending gardens and planters to cleaning areas and making them shine, small or large groups of volunteers can get engaged in making a better Downtown.  

Over time, with each “barn we raise,” we will be improving Downtown — adding green space, improving the appearance, and most of all, cultivating a strong and enthusiastic group of volunteers committed to their neighborhood.

We’ve already heard from corporate groups who want to pull together on a project that makes a difference in the area in which they work and they want to get to know each other on a more social level. Over time, we will reach out to student groups, social clubs and church groups who may want to connect to Downtown and each other in a new, meaningful way.  And, this is fair warning to my book club — let’s do a Downtown barn-raising together! Is your group or club ready?

Information on our volunteer program is available on our website at If you have a group ready to roll up their sleeves and be part of something great Downtown, we’d love to hear from you.

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. Follow the (DID) on Twitter @MinneapolisDID.

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