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July 4, 2011
By: Sarah harris
Sarah harris
What do we aspire to be as a city? As a community? As a Downtown?   

DID’s Greening and Public Realm committee has been asking those questions for the last year as it serves for the Downtown 2025 visioning process being undertaken by the Minneapolis Downtown Council.  

Our committee has been charged with identifying the role of the outdoor experience in making our Downtown more attractive for recruiting new businesses, employees, visitors and residents, as well as how the public realm can strengthen the sense of community for those already living, working and recreating in the city.

Our committee’s work isn’t done yet, and I don’t want to share the results of our work out of context with the many other aspects being addressed by the 2025 process. But, here’s what I can say:  beauty matters; connectivity matters; nature matters; sustainability matters; well planned, programmed and maintained spaces matter — and everyone has a role in making it happen.

It’s not lost on me that these principles all come together to describe the last of the 2010 Greening Champions to be announced: Best Restoration: Sculpture, Plaza & Reflecting Pond at 20 Washington Ave. by Hines Companies.  

Since earlier this year, we have written about how a variety of big and small greening projects captured our imagination and began knitting together our Downtown in a variety of ways:

• Special gathering places: Cancer Survivor’s Park by FRM Associates; Marquette Avenue Garden by WCCO TV; Target Plaza South Entry by Target; and Assisi on 9th by St. Olaf Catholic Church.

• Engaging places to see while walking: YWCA entry and The Local by Your Enchanted Florist.

• Beautification projects that bring volunteers together: Loring Greenway Beautification by Loring Greenway Association.

• Beautiful solutions for necessary infrastructure: parking lot edges by Thrivent.  

And, as we look to include more natural amenity, contemplative space and architectural beauty in our downtown, we need look no further than the restoration work done at 20 Washington Avenue, a true gift to the community.

DID’s jury has already begun looking for outdoor greening and public realm projects that should be celebrated in 2011. Will your project be one of them?  If you have one (yours or someone elses) that inspires you — let us know by nominating it on a feedback form at      

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.