- Accessibility: Every person deserves access to our city’s beautiful parks, facilities and resources. We need to empower children, especially in communities of color, where resources and advocacy have historically not been as available.
- Community: I support the expansion of funding for after-school programs and youth development, and I want to expand the opportunity for community gardens in or near our neighborhood parks, with a pilot program in District 3.
- Transparency: The Park Board must do a better job listening to the community and park employees. I want to see regular community meetings so people know what decisions are being made, and so residents have a greater platform to speak about what they want to see in their parks.
- Continue and encourage the equitable funding of parks as set forth the in NPP20 plan
- Empower communities of color by creating better access to parks and park resources
- Increase youth development funding and recreational opportunities for our seniors
- Make sure park updates are appropriate to the needs of neighborhoods, with the proper fields, buildings and amenities to ensure best use
- Promote public/private MPRB contracts that serve the public’s best interest
- Work with Park Board and partners to address high costs of child care in park facilities
- Comprehensive multi-lingual information boards at neighborhood parks that better communicate upcoming events and services being offered
- Set aside more space for community gardens in neighborhood parks with a pilot program in District 3
- Encourage collaboration with School Board for increased educational opportunities around community agriculture and healthy eating
- More fruit trees and edibles in and near our and parks
- Wild ecosystem planting in appropriate spaces that encourages monarch, bee and other insect pollinators
- Create ‘Youth Advisory Council’ that acts as liaison to Park Board on how we can imaginatively improve our park spaces
- Encourage plans like RiverFirst in which buyback and revitalization city land for park use takes place; promote innovative ways in which we can reconnect with our natural habitats in Minneapolis
*Please read further for more detail on how to make our parks more accessible and community driven!
Equal Access to Parks
Every person in Minneapolis — especially our children — deserve equal access to our wonderful parks. I have spent countless hours as a youth coordinator in our parks, and will fight so that all residents have access, resources and facilities in their own neighborhoods that others benefit from throughout the city. I have fought for this in Phillips, and will continue to fight for this right as Park Board Commissioner.
Providing strong investment to parks that have not seen the same level of funding in the past is how we can address this accessibility gap. The NPP20 Park Plan is a great and historic start, but we need to keep advocating for chronically neglected parks, and bring unheard voices into this conversation.
Learn more about the NPP20 here: https://www.minneapolisparks.org/about_us/budget__financial/20-year_neighborhood_park_plan/
Equal access also means expanding multi-lingual signage in our parks so that people who don’t speak English can also use them effectively.This especially goes for parks in the diverse Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood and the Phillips Community, where these signs are extremely important for park use.
Community Gardens/Urban Agriculture
Since sponsoring the Mashkiiki Community Garden as chair of Ventura Village Neighborhood Association and seeing its success, I have wanted to expand community gardens in Minneapolis. Having more community gardens located in or near our parks would give children in every neighborhood access to the space to learn how to grow their own healthy food, an important skill as healthy eating practices and good dietary choices start young. More collaboration and partnerships with the School Board, non-profits and other organizations could bring educational opportunities and recreation to our parks around these community spaces for urban agriculture. I want District 3 to serve as the pilot program for this initiative, and we will set an example for the rest of Minneapolis for how successful urban agriculture and community gardening can be.
Here in Minneapolis, we are losing many of our ash trees to emerald ash-borer — an insect that destroys these trees. Currently, over one-fifth (over 40,000 out of 200,000) of the trees that the Park Board cares for are ash trees, most of which will eventually succumb to the emerald ash-borer. We must do what we can to protect the healthy trees, but I will also support the Park Board’s efforts to replace diseased trees with other species as a way to slow the bug. Additionally, I would like to see that 100 new native trees are planted in District 3 above our current numbers, both to replace the trees lost and also expand the natural beauty of our parks and boulevards.
Our parks are important meeting places, but not knowing what is happening in them is a barrier to use. I think we can do a better job communicating what community events and other services are being offered. That is why I want to see large, comprehensive information broads at all parks in District 3 and throughout the city. These will list all events and services offered throughout the year, allowing for residents plan more effectively for what our parks are delivering to our communities.
Recreation and Community Involvement
Our parks are some of the best places for friends and family to come together and spend time with one another. I want to encourage this as Park Commissioner in District 3 with the expansion of after school programs, increased youth development funding as well as creating more community centered recreational opportunities for aging and elderly residents. (Have you heard of Pickle Ball?) The more people we involve in our parks, the richer our communities will be.
I believe that there is a fixable gap between our community and the Park Police. I want to work to bridge that gap to continue to make our parks a more welcoming space for those who use them. Part of this effort will involve more inclusivity and diversity training for Park Police officers, but more broadly, also making sure the Park Police and MPD are employing more people of color. We need people who look like and know our communities to be employed and engaged at this level of civil society, especially in our public spaces.
Lastly, the Park Board must also do a better job listening to what the community wants. I don’t have all the answers or promises for how to make these spaces better, for the answers and opportunities are as diverse as the residents who use our beautiful parks. In order to understand these concerns elected officials first must be available. I want to hold regular community town halls for park-goers and members of the community to come together and express what they want to see in their parks. Our neighbors, commissioners, maintenance personnel, engineers, environmental experts, as well as the superintendent will be invited to these meetings to share a diverse range of ideas and skills on how to improve our parks.