Green digest // ‘Next Generation of Parks’

Planning for the ‘Next Generation of Parks’

The High Line, an elevated strip of reclaimed green space in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, has been wowing New Yorkers and visitors to that city since it opened to the public a little over a year ago.

The park, built three stories above street level on an abandoned railroad trestle, was praised for transforming the way visitors perceive the urban environment. Nicolai Ouroussoff, architecture critic for the New York Times, wrote it already was “one of the most beloved public spaces in New York” within months of its opening in June 2009.

So what does this have to do with Minneapolis?

The folks at the Minneapolis Parks Foundation think the High Line’s example could inspire similar visionary park design in Minneapolis, and have made the park the topic of the next event in their Next Generation of Parks speaker series.

High Line lead designer Lisa Tziona Switkin will speak about the development of the park June 16 at the Walker Art Center. Switkin, a senior associate at the New York-based landscape architecture firm Field Operations, will be joined by Robert Hammond, executive director of Friends of the High Line and one of two Chelsea residents credited with leading the decade-long effort to build the park.

The Minneapolis Parks Foundation partnered with the Walker and the University of Minnesota College of Design to start the conversation about Minneapolis parks in the 21st Century, and held its first speaker event on London’s Green Grid in May. The series runs into the fall and will lead into a design ideas competition.

Learn more about the Next Generation of Parks speaker series at For more on the High Line, go to

The event, 7 p.m. June 16 talk at the Walker, 1750 Hennepin Ave., is free. Tickets will be available at the Walker one hour before the talk begins.


Greenway Challenge rescheduled

Organizers of the first-ever Greenway Challenge announced in May the event would be rescheduled to Sept. 25 from the original date of June 5.

While the 44-mile bicycle ride is not competitive, participants will compete to collect the most pledges in support of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for the non-motorized transportation corridor. The grand prize for the rider who collects the most money in pledged donations is roundtrip airfare to France and a weeklong stay in a wine country chateau.

The day of the challenge was pushed back three months to give riders more time to collect pledges, the organizers announced in a press release. Participants must raise at least $250 in pledges.

Go to for more on event rules, registration and prizes.


Chance remains to win $1,000 rain garden

Earlier this spring, this column reported Metro Blooms planned to award the 5,000th attendee of its rain garden workshops a $1,000 custom rain garden.

Well, that person hadn’t walked into a workshop hosted by the Minneapolis nonprofit as of late May, and wasn’t expected to until late June. If you’ve been considering attending a Metro Blooms workshop, now might be the time to actually sign up and go.

Your best shot at winning, according to Metro Blooms, is at one of these two remaining workshops: June 22 at Linden Hills Recreation Center, 3100 W. 43rd St.; or June 24 at Brooklyn Park City Hall Council Chambers, 5200 85th Ave. N., Brooklyn Park. Both workshops run 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m. and cost $10.

Register for a workshop at or by calling (651) 699-2426.

Ecoscapes Sustainable Landscaping of Eagan will install the prize rain garden. The $1,000 value includes design, excavation, plants and other garden materials.


County saving on vending machines

A few months back in this column you learned about a statewide bulk-buy program aimed at getting a bunch of energy-saving vending machine add-ons for cheap.

The VendingMiser is a device that uses motion-sensing technology to turn off a vending machine when no one is around. It also has internal and external temperature monitors, so that the machine uses as little energy as possible while still keeping pop and bottled drinks cool.

The bulk-buy program, organized by Clean Energy Resource Teams, or CERTS, must have sounded like a good idea to the folks at Hennepin County. In June, the county reported it participated in the program and planned to install 40 VendingMisers.

The goal is to cut energy use by almost one-quarter on the machines with VendingMisers, which will be installed in county offices in downtown Minneapolis, as well as some libraries and county service centers.

The county estimated each vending machine requires 3,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, to the tune of $235 annually. If the VendingMisers work as advertised, they’ll save the county about $2,100 per year and pay for themselves within three years, the county reported.