Tip of the hat to downtown beautification efforts in Minneapolis

(Finance & Commerce, March 15, 2012)—A full slate of high-profile, ambitious plans are on the horizon for downtown Minneapolis parks and public spaces, from a Sculpture Garden expansion and Nicollet Mall renovation to the proposed Gateway and Water Works parks that would better connect the city to its riverfront.

All of those projects won’t be enough to satisfy David Wilson.

“We will not be successful if we only achieve those big goals,” said Wilson, chairman of the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District’s greening and public realm committee. (His day job is managing partner at one of downtown’s largest employers, Accenture.)

As Wilson and his committee see it, making downtown as green, pleasant and inviting as possible will also require countless smaller efforts from businesses and individuals — from sidewalk planters to urban gardens.

That’s why the improvement district honored the best of these unsung efforts Tuesday at its second annual Greening and Public Realm Awards, which were presented at the Minneapolis Central Library. The awards recognize residents, businesses, associations and community members who enhance downtown by creating and maintaining greenery in public spaces. Continue reading “Tip of the hat to downtown beautification efforts in Minneapolis”

Should red and blue states be green and black instead?

(Midwest Energy News, January 25, 2012)—A presidential election year is upon us again, and that means the return of maps splitting the nation into red and blue states.

James Lenfestey thinks we should be seeing green and black instead.

Lenfestey, a Minneapolis poet and former journalist, spoke at a monthly Environment Minnesota breakfast Tuesday about the politics of energy. (Environment Minnesota is a member of RE-AMP, which publishes Midwest Energy News.)

The oil and coal industries have influenced U.S. politics so much in recent decades, Lenfestey explained, that many red states would be better represented as black for the oil and coal interests they support. Blue states, meanwhile, have led the way on green energy.

Lenfestey’s first exposure to the fossil-fuel industry’s political machine came while working as an editorial writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune in the early 1990s. Continue reading “Should red and blue states be green and black instead?”

Why Arts & Culture Matter to Economic Development

M.A. RoskoThe Current had Fox 9 reporter M.A. Rosko, a Pennsylvania transplant, on the air this morning to talk about The Current’s birthday bash at First Avenue tonight. What caught my ear was her explanation about why she’s been in Minnesota the past 10 years:

“I moved here for the job, but I stayed for the local music and the local beer.”

I’ve met a couple of people who claim to have moved to the Twin Cities because of The Replacements, and I bet we could find a small army of twenty- and thirty-somethings who moved here or stayed here because of Atmosphere and Rhymesayers (Say Shhh…!). And well, you can’t get Surly beer in Chicago or South Dakota.

I tend to think the reasons people (and companies) choose to be in Minnesota get oversimplified and over-politicized. Taxes and regulation matter, to a degree. But my hunch is that those levers are severely limited if a place doesn’t have a vibrant “scene.”