Posts Tagged ‘Mississippi River’

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MY YARD: A COLLECTION OF PARKS

May 31, 2012

Yesterday, as I walked the three blocks toward the Hennepin County Library to a seminar by MPRB, DID and the Downtown Council entitled “What’s Up with the Downtown Parks”, I realized I LIVE in a downtown park.  Fortunately, I had planned some extra time at the library to check out a couple books, because I started taking pictures-40 of them before I returned home!

Just outside my door, I enter the pedestrian /bike only portion of 2nd Street and walk under a canopy of trees that stretches from Marquette to Hennepin Avenue.  On either side, I am surrounded by well-kept wrought iron fences – which reveal the grand “backyard” of the Towers Condominium on one side, and their tennis courts on the other.   

At the other end, I emerge from the trees into the small Gateway Park –it’s dancing fountain  awakened from its winter sleep, and ready for its light show when the sun goes down.  Across the street, is a little-known and well-hidden great park at the Federal Reserve that connects to the Central Riverfront, but no time for that today. To the left, I pass the Nice Ride Station and head up the steps that lead me through the ING portico and down again to Nicollet Avenue. 

Across the street, is the Cancer Survivor Park. Of course, I pass it often, but have never explored it, so with time to spare, I walked through the grounds.  WOW!  I sat a few minutes on a bench tucked among the dense white birch trees, and watched the guys tossing footballs on the groomed lawn, then returned to the sidewalk along Nicollet to travel between the waterfall and the MPRB boulevard parks filled with poetry that reflected Nicollet Ave memories and dreams for the future-written by poets 3  to over 65 years old.  Yes, I have often walked by; but no, I have never taken the time to read the inspiring messages before yesterday. 

I was so engrossed, I almost missed the eyesore parking lot /bus terminal just north of the library building.  Perhaps because I know it is being considered as a site for the new expanded GATEWAY, and is part of my own Plan-it Hennepin vision, it no longer bothers me quite so much….instead when I look at it, I see my dream of an inter-cultural green gathering place that welcomes  residents, business, visitors and new immigrant populations. 

So with that, I walked into the Library, dropped off a couple books I just finished and then headed upstairs to hear about the greening of downtown Minneapolis and the planned updates and enhancements to Nicollet Mall, Loring Park, and other downtown parks along the way, as well as the status of the WaterWorks Park that will close the West River Road gap on the Central River Front.

Yes, as citizens of Mpls, we should be ashamed of the brown donut hole of downtown that is seen in aerial views of the city-surrounded by the green of a world-class park system focused on the lakes.  And for me personally, after rediscovering the Central River Front 25 years ago, it was encouraging to hear that the city has grown to understand that indeed, “ a RIVER runs through us”.

Returning home after the meeting, I came down Marquette between the towering skyscrapers, but even then, I detoured through the well-kept  grounds of 100 Washington Avenue that borders on my own “yard” at the Churchill. 

As I walked, I realized I had a pretty impressive FRONT YARD, but goodness, think of my BACKYARD!  I border on a 72-mile long National Park – the Mississippi River!

The river has been throwing a delayed “spring tantrum” this week.  The locks have even been closed to all traffic because of the turbulence. With little snow melt in April, we didn’t get quite the show we usually do, but this week, with all the May rain, it has been spectacular! Instead of budding trees and brown grass of past April shows, this year, the scene of the rough, constantly rolling river carpeted with whitecaps is framed by fully-leafed trees and a blanket of green on the ground.   No April walkers wrapped in coats and scarves shiver on the Stone Arch Bridge; instead smiling folks- occasionally feeling the cloud of spray hovering over the raging waters below-are enjoying the Power of the Falls! 

And the best-kept secret of the Central Riverfront and its Heritage Trail –the falls on the East Channel, peaking out among the greenery at the down river side of the Power Plant- is just amazing! In fact, I think it warrants my occasional use of the lower trail through Pillsbury Park to get a closer view– maybe an early morning walk tomorrow.

How fortunate I am to live where I do!

(The picture below is the “gentle” spillway, north of the Third Avenue Bridge-incredible!)

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The RIVER…

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!