May 16, 2010

This week, amidst the rapidly approaching opening of the Dancers Studio new event venue and juggling priorities between the advertising agency, the media production company and my own design team as we develop concepts, costs, consolidated timelines, and collateral for our collaborative effort to produce an impactful experiential event for a corporate meeting of 5000 attendees in August, I assumed my new responsibilities as the facilitator of the Mississippi Riverfront partners group focused on improving the Visitor Experience along the riverfront.

Whew! What was I thinking when I agreed to do this? Although I know it’s my passion for that riverfront and what I get back personally from it that is the motivator, that question was certainly foremost in mind as my workdays started at 4AM and ended at 7 – 8PM every day this week – and spilled over into the weekend in full force!

And then yesterday, I introduced a friend to the wonder of walking the Heritage Trail early on a Saturday morning. As we started out at 7:30, accompanied by Mighty Dog, everything was still and splashed with sunshine, and I sensed my companion immediately fell under that spell of the moving water as it gave off its gift of living light- about which I have written in a blog last October. As we crossed the Hennepin Bridge, and headed down the West River Road walkway, I found myself becoming the informal tour guide – pointing out the landmarks, history and rich culture we were passing through.

Since this was the first experience on the Heritage Trail for my walking partner, we skipped the interesting detours along the route – until we came to the parking lot at the west entrance to the Stone Arch Bridge – and then, of course, since it was Saturday morning, we added the loop that took us across the Plank Road to Chicago Plaza and the wonderful bustling Mill City Farmers Market. Since mighty dogs are banned from the actual vendors inside the train shed, we each took turns inside while the other explored the plaza with Mighty. After gazing longingly at the huge fresh morels (at $48 a pound) and squirreling away only a small piece of Friesago from Shepherd’s Way Farms in my pocket, we dined on street food (dim sum for me; Aunt Elsie’s Aebelskiver for my friend) then we left that bustling community of friendly river and market supporters that gather every Saturday and returned to the trail.

A leisurely walk across the Stone Arch Bridge, through Father Hennepin Park and up Main Street , and we were back on Nicollet Island for a cup a coffee and a personal chat-up before heading back to the burbs.

We’ll add the loop through the woods along the East Channel to Boom Island, the artwork along the Federal Reserve walkway, First Bridge Park, Mill Ruins Park, Water Power Park, and a visit to the Observation Deck at the Upper Lock and Dam for later trips…and then of course, we need to make the 6th street to University loop to Dunn’s for coffee, a meander through Marcy Holmes that brings us back to the Godfrey House, East Hennepin and back down the Lady of Lourdes steps to the Square…so much to do, so little time before the snow flies again – but I am sure by then I will have a convert to the richness of the riverfront!

And that’s why I took on the facilitator role of the Visitor Experience; I know that living light of our Mighty Mississippi refreshes and inspires me so I can keep meeting the challenges of my life in the event world!

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