Highpoint unveils rain garden

Highpoint Center for Printmaking is settling into its new digs on Lake Street and plans to host a grand opening celebration in October.

A smaller opening will take place this month, when Highpoint unveils its new rain garden designed by Kinji Akagawa. A sculptor and McKnight Distinguished Artist, Akagawa graduated from Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1968 and was a longtime professor at the school.

The 530-square-foot garden is tucked behind the Highpoint building, and is designed to collect runoff from the building’s roof. Homeowners considering a rain garden for their lawn or boulevard may pick up some design ideas from the boulder-strewn garden planted with native species.

Assisting Akagawa with the garden’s design were Jason Rathe, co-owner of Minneapolis landscaping company Field Outdoor Spaces, and James Dayton, the architect who created Highpoint’s new home.

The rain garden celebration reception is 5:30–7 p.m. Sept. 16 at Highpoint, 912 W. Lake St. The event will begin with a planting ceremony involving students from neighborhood schools.

The event is free, but guests are requested to register in advance by calling 871-1326.

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Greening the Minneapolis Bike Tour

A bike ride is already a pretty “green” activity, right?

Even so, organizers of the third annual Minneapolis Bike Tour found a few ways to be even greener for this year’s ride around the Grand Rounds parkway loop, scheduled for Sept. 20.

In an effort to cut down on waste, no printed information packets or plastic goody bags will be handed out, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board reported. Instead, cyclists can find the answers to their questions on the tour’s website (minneapolisbiketour.com) or, on the day of the event, at the information booth.

Those goody bags used to hold free tour T-shirts, some of which likely got stuffed into dresser drawers, never to see the light of day again.

Organizers cut the free T-shirt and also cut its cost from the $30 registration fee. T-shirts sell for $5 to those who want them.

Riders are encouraged to bring their own reusable water bottles to reduce the number of plastic bottles and paper cups that end up in the garbage. Bottle-filling stations along the 37-mile route will tap into the city’s tap water system.

Speaking of garbage, this year compost bins will be stationed at rest stops to collect food waste.

There’s more to the bike tour’s green initiative, but this last one is up to the participants. Riders are encouraged to bike and not drive to the Parade Field starting point or, when possible, carpool.

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Volunteers needed for bicycle, pedestrian count

Last issue, Green Digest shared the results of the city’s annual bicycle and pedestrian count, which found an increase in the numbers of both on city streets between 2007 and 2008.

The third annual count will take place this month, and volunteers are needed to monitor streets and bike paths. The annual observations of non-motorized traffic help the city plan improvements to its biking and walking infrastructure.

Volunteers will work in two-hour shifts. The big day this year is Sept. 15, but counters will be needed other days, as well.

Those interested in volunteering can register on the city’s website (ci.minneapolis.mn.us/bicycles/). That’s also where the results of the 2008 bicycle count are posted.

Another way to sign up is to contact Shaun Murphy, coordinator of the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program, directly at [email protected] or 275-5128.

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Commissioners aim to boost recycling in Hennepin County

Hennepin County Commissioners want to revamp the county’s solid waste system to boost recycling and composting rates among residents and businesses.

The Board of Commissioners in August approved a resolution directing county staff to review the current solid waste system and prepare a report on potential improvements by December 1. Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, whose Fourth District includes Downtown and South Minneapolis, sponsored the resolution.

The report was expected to include new 10-year goals for reducing waste and increasing collection of recycling and compost. The resolution directed staff to finance improvements without an increase in county property taxes.

County staff also was asked to review solid waste fees.

The resolution cited expiring county contracts, technology improvements and the growing interest in composting in making the case that now is the time to review the solid waste system.