SCAPE land and design in the Upper Midwest
Three Environmental Non-Profits: a comparison and evaluation
COOL CITIES, USA
SECRET GARDENS and
BIG ROCK ART Midwestern Public Sculpture with an Impact
a publication of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects
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On the Cover: Sakari Peltola’s “Weatherman” is one of 15 sculptures created during this summer’s International Stone Carvers Symposium in Saint Paul Read about more public artworks in topic:art photo by Linnea Larson
__SCAPE is published quarterly by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (MASLA). __SCAPE is FREE. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to email@example.com, and type subscribeSCAPE in the subject line. Send general MASLA inquiries to: MASLA International Market Square 275 Market Street, Suite 54 Minneapolis, MN 55405 612-339-0797 FAX 612-338-7981 Send general __SCAPE inquiries, letters to the editor, and advertising requests to: Adam Regn Arvidson MASLA Director of Communications 4348 Nokomis Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55406 612-968-9298 firstname.lastname@example.org
SUMMER 06 topics
A New Commission
A Hidden gardens at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
_SCAPE interviews a Minneapolis Planning Commissioner who is also a landscape design professional
by Dane A. Steinlicht
whips The Forest for the Trees
Fellowâ€™s Top 5
Rockinâ€™ Saint Paul
14 artists create monumental stone artworks... in 6 weeks!
Three environmental non-profits are put under the microscope
by Adam Regn Arvidson
by Veronika Phillips
Midwestern public art with Marjorie Pitz
In Other Words :Magazine
:Website Sierra coolcities.us
MASLA Executive Committee Bruce Chamberlain, president John D. Slack, past president Ellen Stewart, president-elect Sonia Walters, secretary Jean Garbarini, treasurer Jim Hagstrom, trustee Matthew Rentsch, director of public relations Mike Jischke, director of programs Richard Wiebe, director of academic affairs Bruce Lemke, co-director of awards and banquet Stephanie Grotta, co-director of awards and banquet Adam Regn Arvidson, director of communications issue #1
The Forest for the Trees editor’s note
_SCAPE is a magazine in transition.
-- Each section should be downloadable easily. File sizes are much smaller.
How, you might ask, can a publication be in transition after only 5 issues? Simple: we are caught between being
-- You can print off a section (4-6 pages each), take it home,
a digital and a print publication, and trying to be both,
and read it in your leisure (double side, please, save
while (it could be said) succeeding at neither. Luckily,
MASLA has a new website, and this will help us bring _SCAPE to you in a more easily accessible manner.
-- If you want the whole magazine, you can do that, too: each section will blend seamlessly with the next.
Why are we caught between? Basically, MASLA knows that you are more likely to read a printed magazine than
So that’s our fix for now, check it out on line, and stay
an on-line one... but printed magazines cost a lot of money.
tuned for more developments on how we plan to better
Our solution, thus far, has been to put the magazine on
bring regional design content to you. We at MASLA know
line in a form that looks nice when printed... then asking
that on a national level, Landscape Architecture Magazine is
you to print it yourself if you so desire.
one of your favorite member benefits. We hope _SCAPE can fill that same niche locally, while also serving as an
This has not run smoothly, partly due to file size, and
educational tool for non-landscape architects.
partly due to the organization of the magazine. But do not fear: solutions are in the works, starting with this here
There are kinks to work out. Thank-you for your patience
Summer06 issue. Here’s what we’ve done:
-- _SCAPE is now effecticely broken down into 5 sections,
each one looking like a stand-alone, several-page pamphlet. We have a section for each “topic” (our
feature articles) and a section for the “whips,” our
quick round-up, which you are reading now, and also includes “in other words” and “Fellows Top 5.”
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness text by John D. Slack
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Fellow’s Top 5 Marjorie Pitz is a landscape architect and public artist who has created several permanent works in the Twin Cities, as well as temporary installations (see “Stick by Stick,” _SCAPE, Fall 05). We asked her about her personal journey with public art, specifically:
What 5 midwestern public artworks have had the most profound effect on you?
50’ tall, Corten steel “baboon” in Daley Plaza at Chicago City Hall.
Picasso was asked to do a piece for Chicago in 1965. Although he had never even traveled to the United States, he agreed, and refused a fee. When the sculpture was unveiled in 1967, the City erupted in controversy. I was a sophomore at Oak Park H.S.—a first ring suburb—and the uproar amazed me. The giant sculpture was “abstract art” with uncomfortable ambiguity, and the citizens couldn’t stand the wonder of what it was. Worse, most people thought it was a baboon, and the insult to their city pride was wickedly offended. Who was responsible for this?! Mayor Daley took a lot of heat, but never answered “WHAT IS IT?” Picasso never did either. Eventually—and very slowly—Chicago citizens have accepted the icon.
Why this work is important to me? • Art could be powerful enough to cause outrage • Ambiguous abstraction generates curiosity • Art in a public place has millions of “owners” to satisfy • Bigness is bold Marjorie Pitz is Principal in the firm Martin & Pitz Associates, Inc., which deals primarily with public gathering spaces such as Lower Phalen Creek, the Children’s Memorial at Resurrection Cemetery, the Minnetonka Community Center, Upper Iowa University, and the Sensory Garden and Shade Tree Exhibits at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Marjorie’s foray into the art world has already yielded several projects: Tree Man!, a willow tree house at the Arboretum; Merwyn, a concrete fantasy creature emerging out of the Seward neighborhood; The Ravenous Bird, a 40 foot long sculpture (complete with slide) at the Arboretum, and Turning Leaf at the Minneapolis North Regional Library.
Buckingham Memorial Fountain Designed by architect Edward Bennett in 1927. A classic style fountain with bronze scuptures, it has 134 jets with some rising to 150’ tall; 3 stacked pools with a 280’diameter bottom basin, a middle basin, and a top basin rising 25’ into the air.
Strategically located in the center of Grant Park at Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway, Buckingham Fountain is heart stopping civic drama. As a child riding into Chicago, I would be thrilled as the tall buildings would fall away at the end of Congress Parkway, and rockets of water would shoot to the sky right in the middle of the road, with the horizontal lake behind. Even a small child understands the relationship of fountain to lake, and the power of a spectacular city entrance. The donor, Kate Buckingham, worked with electricians to develop “soft moonlight,” giving the fountain an ethereal, mystical aura. She also started a trust fund for maintenance so citizens would never have to pay for upkeep.
Why is this work important to me? • A spectacular entrance makes visitors love a city • Water is magic—alive, changing, hypnotic • Location is the key to powerful civic features • Chicago’s genius to make the waterfront a huge public park, a place to celebrate the delightful juxtaposition of skyscraping verticality to horizontal calm.
SCAPE summer 06
The Picasso in Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago Lions
Two huge bronze lions by Edward Kemeys flank the entrance to the Art Institute that opened in 1894 as part of the Chicago World’s Fair.
The Art Institute of Chicago’s lions are visible on Michigan Avenue from a distance, providing an icon that is immediately recognizable for visitors in search of the museum. While the Art Institute boasts some of the best impressionist art in the world, visitors to the museum are first impressed by the lions. They tower over your head as you near the stairs, then become more approachable as you climb up to their height. The lions are enormous, realistic in portrayal, and powerful in aspect. To children and adults, the lions are fun and awesome. They greet visitors, and suggest that the museum is not too “high brow”—lay people are welcome. In fact, the felines are typically (lovingly) decorated with wreaths and baseball caps to celebrate the seasons.
Why is this work important to me? • Not all art is stuffy and pretentious • Big animals provoke excitement and fantasy • Placing sculpture outdoors and low enough to touch welcomes people to have fun and fall in love
The Triangle Park Merwyn Built in 2004 as the Seward Neighborhood Gateway, the Merwyn, below, was my first permanent public scupture. It is a concrete fantasy creature 6’H x 30’ x 30’ that emerges from underground to smile upon the neighborhood. Children are welcome to climb upon its head, using hair and humps as handholds. Parents can sit nearby upon Merwyn’s arm and hands. Rubberized safety surfacing surrounds the sculptural play piece. Creating the Merwyn was a life-changing experience. Working in clay, I let my brain go, and let my fingers do the playing. The Merwyn emerged magically, and then captured the imagination of neighborhood. Making the model real, however, was not as fun, as it took two years of neighborhood meetings to resolve park issues and to raise money needed to supplement the Public Art Affairs budget. After the Merwyn’s creation, locals were invited to write essays on ”How the Merwyn chose Seward Neighborhood
Paul Bunyan and Babe
Since 1937, tourists have flocked to Bemidji to see the giant concrete sculptures of Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox. Eastman Kodak credits the sculpture as being the second most photographed icon in the United States. The sculpture succeeds because of its size and fantasy. My firm, Martin & Pitz, did a master plan for Bemidji’s park with Paul Bunyon and Babe that enabled me to study the sculpture and contemplate its success. Despite the master plan getting swiftly shelved, my respect for Paul and Babe has endured.
for its home.” I was humbled and proud that my creativity prompted more creativity, and that Merwyn had begun to create its own urban legends.
Why is this work important to me? • Challenging yourself with something new is frightening, but thrilling • Sculpting in 3-D during the first thinking stage frees your creativity • Art is more painful to create than landscapes, because people can hate your art • Creating a landscape with integrated art is deeply satisfying
monstrous legend caught the fancy of millions, even when surrounded by a parking lot of
cars and campers.
Why is this work important to me? • People seek fantasy and love bigness • People thrill to home-made sculpture made by kooks with a vision • People enjoy laughing at (or with?) “art”, instead of taking it dead serious
whips tation, recycling, energy, and food – with examples of
In Other Words
how diverse burgs are working to ice global warming. Minneapolis is showcased in the recycling section, with kudos going to the Re-Use Center (see topic:business in this issue) and the Midtown Greenway (a “recycled” rail line now turned commuter bikeway). But when it comes to cities, the magazine is just the begin-
Items of interest in the broader printSCAPE...
ning. A new Sierra Club initiative builds on the United States Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, envisioned
MAGAZINE / WEBSITE
in 2005 by Seattle mayor Greg Nickels (and created
on the day the Kyoto Protocol treaty took effect in 141 other countries), Cool Cities now boasts more than 200
members. These grassroots climate changers sign a pledge
review by Adam Regn Arvidson, ASLA 1983,
WHY KIDS FEAR NATURE | C YCLING SUPERHEROES
converting city fleets
chronicling the exploits
to hybrid power, using
of mountaineers, hikers,
and enthusiasts of the
power (CHP) facilities
still young National Park
(for which Saint Paul
In 1977, that
newsletter became Sierra, a
E x p l o r e , E n j o y, a n d P r o t e c t t h e P l a n e t
is credited in the Cool Cities Guide, available at www.coolcities.us),
that is the mouthpiece
able energy standards
of an 800,000-member
tion. More recently still, the magazine began to focus not just on the Sierra
Bright ideas about transit, recycling, energy, and food
THE ONLY KAYAK IN GLACIER BAY
and-butter outdoor and political issues, but also
boasts six Cool Cities: Apple
and Saint Paul.
on the workings of the
THE HIGH PRICE OF POLLUTION
Besides all that urban
stuff, Sierra and sierra-
“We feel that [cities are] more important for the environment that ever,”
club.org remain a key resource
THE MAGA ZINE OF THE SIERRA CLUB
$ 2 . 9 5 / CANADA $3.50 J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 0 6
says Jennifer Hattam,
political goings on. The magazine comes out bimonthly, and while
Sierra’s Senior Associate Editor, “because if people are
its “Lay of the Land” section is an engaging, educational
not happy in their cities, if they can’t get good green
round-up of happenings, the two month lag-time makes
space to enjoy, or have ease of transportation, they will
the website invaluable. And don’t worry, the Club is still
move farther and farther out:” a proposition Sierra sees
taking trips (profiled in the “Sierra Club Outings” section).
as unsustainable in the long run. That’s why the cover
Sierra is distributed to all Club members, who pay $39
story for the most recent July/August issue takes a look at
per year minimum. To learn how to make your city cool,
the ways cities are making themselves greener. Hattam,
go to www.coolcities.us and click “Get Involved.”
who edited the piece, looked at four topics – transpor-
SCAPE summer 06
COURTESY THE SIERRA CLUB
to conduct and then act on a global warming emissions
Secret Nature The Arboretum is hiding 20 unique gardens. Find them soon... by Dane A. Steinlicht
northern Andrus Learning Center. Seeing even a select few
surprise for you. Twenty surprises, in fact,
can give you a perfect sense of the beauty and breadth of
and each one suggests a wonderful world of
the Arboretum. Your journey, however you choose it, will
discovery and design. This summer The University of
leave you more connected to the landscapes of everyday
Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum is playing home to the
life and more excited about the human imagination.
works of twenty different designers and landscape archi-
tects, which together form the Secret Gardens Exhibition. A special event for all who enjoy the calming effects of nature, the secret gardens compliment the already playful and smooth landscape of the Arboretum. The installations are on view through September 10th.
rom crafting live turf into giant easy chairs to shrinking the landscape down to playful proportions, the exhibits are varied and exciting. Design
firm biota LLC suggests that you be the final judge on which color the flowers in bloom should be. By creating a predominantly white array of blooming plants and
The designers were given an exciting opportunity and a
positioning colored acrylic panels around them the viewer
purposeful mission. They were individually challenged
is able to explore the colorful possibilities. (Can you think
to interpret nature as a secret space. The gardens are
of anyone who might appear new and interesting with a
spread across the 1,040 wonderful acres of the Arboretum.
splash of yellow and blue?) But the white petals in bloom
Most you can enjoy in a relaxing succession. Others are
create an even more interesting sight.
scattered along Three Mile Road. Even more are near the
COURTESY DANE STEINLICHT, ALL; GARDEN DECRIPTIONS COURTESY MINNESOTA LANDSCAPE ARBORETUM
“What Color is Your Garden,” by biota LLC allows you to choose what color the plants should be. It is one of 20 “secret gardens” commissioned by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
3. Under the Oak: Secret Dreams, Forgotten Pastimes
Designers: Marion Andrus Learning Center Staff; Bob McNeely, Rustic Furniture
The exhibitions are successively impressive and enlight-
ening as the journey continues deeper into the Chaska wilderness. You’ll come across a bucolic, chipped trail
“Under the Oak” is a unique, ever-evolving nature play area for kids and
on your way to three installations along Three Mile Road.
families. It’s a place for young imaginations to take flight, a place to linger—a
The exhibits seem to take over the daylily paths and
place to change and be changed.
bubbling creeks. But before you leave the main grouping you’ll want to look for Nathan Anderson’s “Penny Lane.”
4. Whispering to the Trees
Hailing from design firm Avocado Green, Anderson
Designer: Laura A. Lyndgaard – Minneapolis, MN
has prepared a feast of miniature annuals, perennials,
Installation help: Cynthia Carlson, Carrie Ann Fathman, Laura Baker
and deciduous and coniferous trees and shrubs raised in copper “penny-like” planters beside the Arborvitae
Two cans connected with a strand of wire has been a secret means of commu-
The suggestion is that admiring a designed
nication between children for many years. “Whispering to the Trees” offers a
space can be enjoyed even when not experienced from
modified version of this imaginative tradition, allowing visitors to talk to friends
within. His creations twinkle with fantasy and quietly
and families and whisper secrets to the trees.
buzz with a true feeling of secrecy. 5. The Curious Book
Cermak Rhoades Architects of St. Paul along with
Designers: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Staff
Mattson Macdonald Young Structural Engineers, Frerichs Construction Company and Scherer Brothers Lumber
Visitors are invited to enter this secret garden by walking through a door
Company attempt the grandest and least secret installa-
mounted in an over-sized page of an open book. As tall annuals and vines
tion; yet succeed in the most sublime, incisive way. Their
mature, the space becomes increasingly secluded—and the visitor hidden—in
“Eye Pod,” modern and obvious from the exterior, snaps
one of the highest traffic areas of the Arboretum.
a photo of genius as a giant garden camera. Clouds are reflected onto the eye’s wall, slowly brushing by below
6. What Color is Your Garden?
the high gardens. When reflected they receive a full 180
Designer: Steven Modrow, Assoc. ASLA - Minneapolis, MN
degree flip due to the concavity of the lens. This feature
Design Firm: biota LLC
celebrates the levity of the earth.
Construction help: Jim Saybolt, TJ Dyer, Salomon Dominguez
The inspiration for “What Color is Your Garden?” is based on how individual experiences within a crowd can be altered, making each visitor’s view unique. A bold, geometric use of color juxtaposed with the absence of color in the plant-
1. Secret Reflections
ings begins a dialogue on the importance of color in the landscape.
Designer: James Robin, ASLA – Minneapolis, MN Design Firm: Close Landscape Architecture, Inc.
7. Magic Mirrors Mandalas, Blending Nature’s Patterns with Human Perceptions
Collaborators: Bill Brueggeman, Accurate Construction; Chuck Cox, Second
Designer: Richard Bonk – Minneapolis, MN
Nature Lawn & Landscape
Collaborators: Vicki Bonk, Shawn Holster, Tonkadale Greenhouses
“Secret Reflections” stretches away underfoot to worlds and adventures
In this garden, mirrors are joined at 90-degree angles to create four inner
unknown. The perfect geometry of the garden increases the sense of perspec-
gardens centered within a circular border. Each mirrored reflection creates a
tive and reflects the gardener’s desire to tame what is wild in nature.
circular visual space, a mandala, where living plants and other natural elements become an abstract design of texture, pattern, dimension, and color.
2. Return to Innocence Designer: Jeffrey Gears – Minneapolis, MN
8. Blue Beginnings
Collaborator: Wild River Gardens – Hammond, Wisconsin
Designer: Leatha M. Hoffman – Golden Valley, MN Design Firm: Bachman’s
Motivated by the staggering statistics that today’s youth have less knowledge
Collaborator: Third Street Studios
of and interaction with nature than any past generation, “Return to Innocence” was designed to encourage children to explore and learn about nature, while
Glimpses of the garden from the outside world and a concealed view from
allowing adults to return to their childhood and childlike ways—a return to
the entrance create anticipation and mystery about what is inside. From birth
innocence and imagination.
through maturity, its spiral design suggests that life comes full circle. SCAPE summer 06
9. Sensory Secrets Designer: Marjorie Pitz, FASLA – Minneapolis, MN Design Firm: Martin & Pitz Assoc. Inc. Collaborator: J. E. Dunn Construction
challenge to the designers, a joy for the patrons, The Arboretum’s Secret Gardens Exhibit is a wonder to all.
“It has been particularly grati-
fying to see my work as viewed by the diversity of visitors the Arboretum attracts,” says Anderson of the response
Inspired by the mission of the Arboretum’s Sensory Garden, “Sensory Secrets”
to his design, “from the wonder of kids stumbling upon
provokes the senses of sound, sight, taste, smell and touch in an accessible
a new little fantasy to the appreciation of horticultural
setting. The theme of “secret gardens” inspired the ideas of hidden sounds,
enthusiasts experiencing something they’ve never quite
hidden puns, and secret dreams.
10. Chapel of the Butterflies
Enjoy it with family and friends or come by yourself,
Designer: Stephen E. Beaudry – Plymouth, MN
but come soon. These Secret Gardens aren’t so secret
Collaborators: Anchor Block Company, Art & Architecture Inc., Linder’s Garden
Gardens” exhibit and related events, visit the University
For more information about the “Secret
of Minnesota Arboretum at www.arboretum.umn.edu or The inspiration for “Chapel of the Butterflies” was the gingko tree’s butterfly-
wing-shaped leaves. Beneath a large gingko tree, the garden showcases a variety of plants that attract butterflies. Meandering garden paths are symbolic
Dane Steinlicht is a student of design at the University of Minnesota.
of the butterfly’s freedom of movement. 11. Penny Lane Designer: Nathan Anderson , ASLA Design Firm: Avocado Green, Inc.
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is hosting “Secret Gardens” this summer, an exhibition of installations as varied as they are whimsical. Visit the miniature gardens of “Penny Lane,” top, and the projector-like “Eye Pod,” bottom.
Seven raised copper vessels, amidst the Arborvitae Collection, hold tiny, imaginative landscapes planted with miniature annuals, perennials, and deciduous and coniferous trees and shrubs. Visitors command a 360-degree experience of each landscape, which is to be viewed rather than occupied. 12. Eye Pod Design Firm: Cermak Rhoades Architects – St. Paul, MN Collaborators: Frerichs Construction Company; Mattson Macdonald Young Structural Engineers; Scherer Brothers Lumber Company A giant camera obscura functions as a “collecting place” that gathers up surrounding gardens and places them in a box for viewing. With only the lens to admit light, and no windows to allow views in or out, visitors can experience the gardens from a secret, personal vantage point. 13. Lawn Furniture Designers: Jeanne A. Kosfeld and William Kosfeld – St. Paul, MN: Leah Horvath Partner: Halla Nursery Familiar shapes cause you to wonder who lives here—a family of gentle giants who come out only at night? In the daylight, their lush corner of the world is inhabited by playful squirrels and birds that frolic on the furniture while they’re away. Delight in its whimsy and grounded strength.
16. Eden Reflected Designers: Eric Amel and Gayla Lindt – St. Paul, MN; Kimberly Serene Anderson
14. Leaf Tunnel
Collaborators: Nolan Prohaska, Dance Wither Glassworks; American Artstone; Ivo Rozendaal
Designer: Gail Katz-James – Minneapolis, MN Design Firm: Katz-James Textile Design
Set among six Dr. Seussian weeping pine trees, the garden incorporates
Collaborators: Marty Hicks of HIXWERX, Althea Lamb, Libby Bergman, Ed
a series of clear walls, distorted in playful dialogue with the trees. A central
Katz-James, Nora Wildgen, Sabine Barksdale
reflective wall divides the garden into two sides – one reveals a black garden; the other a white. The garden is designed to prompt inner reflection and self-
“Leaf Tunnel” springs from the child-like desire to hide or take refuge. It is a
awareness in contrast with the garden and the rest of the world.
place for children and adults to relax, hide, peek outside, learn a little, and slow their pace. Oversize leaf pillows encourage visitors to lounge, while learning to
17. Voice of the Willows
identify trees and their leaves.
Designers: Landscape Design Instructor Matthew Brooks, ASLA, and secondyear Landscape Design Class of Dakota County Technical College
15. giant grass + fairy rings
Collaborators: Dakota County Technical College, Department of Landscape
Designers: Jason S. Brown and Elizabeth Scofield – Knoxville, TN; Frederic E.
Horticulture; Gertens; Winco Landscape, Inc.
Scofield – St. Paul, MN Design Firm: Survival Design – Knoxville, TN
“Voice of the Willows” is a journey choreographed to alter the psyche and arouse the senses as visitors proceed from Three-Mile Drive to the final desti-
Fairy rings are derived from folklore and represent mushrooms or other myste-
nation—moving from light to dark, from open to enclosed spaces to areas of
rious funghi and are thought to identify paths where fairies danced. Sixteen-
contemplation with vistas that stir the imagination.
feet tall giant blades of grass borrow their form from the natural architecture of resilient and simple blades of grass. Giant Grass and fairy rings’ symbiotic
18. Summerhouse Library
relationship encourages viewers to walk into open areas exploring wider fields,
Designers: Laura Fulk, Chad Rutter and Karen Wirth – Minneapolis, MN
and then to contemplate nature at a closer range.
Organization: Minneapolis College of Art and Design Libraries are places to discover secrets and to experience fresh viewpoints. This outdoor library of “Field Guides of Art in Nature” invites the viewer to read the landscape through color, form, pattern, and perspective. 19. An In[tro]verted Garden Designers: Beth Nelson and Bryan Toov – Minneapolis, MN “An Introverted Garden,” is about hiding and about seeking—seeking to understand our natural surroundings and how we fit within them. Visitors enter a seemingly benign structure to discover a surprising, dynamic interior. Embedded spyglasses provide a distorted glimpse into the surrounding landscape. 20. Twisting Planes Designers: Joseph Favour, Tadd Kreun , ASLA Design Firm: oslund.and.assoc. Constructed of twisting mesh panels and fast-growing vines,“Twisting Planes” simultaneously focuses and obscures a view, while creating an experience of movement and fun.
“Leaf Tunnel,” left, creates a secret garden within the garden, offering a place of cool refuge.
SCAPE summer 06
David Motzenbecker, a landscape designer with oslund.and.assoc. in Minneapolis, was appointed to the Minneapolis Planning Commission in 2005. Since, he has promoted the city’s goals on growth, earned the nickname “Commissioner EIFS” (because his distaste for this oft-used building cladding is well known), and brought a uniquely landscape architectural, big-picture approach to the approval process. _SCAPE sat down with Motzenbecker halfway through his term, to see what he had to say about politics, the public, and planning.
A New Commission _SCAPE: Describe the process for getting your seat on the Minneapolis Planning Commission?
Motzenbecker: I don’t know if it was really a process. A friend of mine called me up and said, “Dave, there’s an opening on the planning commission. I think you should try out for it.” And at the time I had no idea about the position, that it was even open -- no clue. So I researched a little bit, found out what the planning commission did, what their intent was, how they ran, you know, the business. And the more I thought about it, I decided I probably would enjoy this and it would probably be a good thing for me to do because I love design but I also love policy and [helping to advocate] for more visionary planning.”
Motzenbecker: I am, in effect, the mayor’s proxy on the planning commission, so, if the mayor wanted to come to planning commission meeting and chose to sit on the commission for that meeting, I would step aside and he would sit in my place. But in his absence I’m his representative. But that does not mean that I’m toeing his line, so to speak. I act like any other commissioner and make my decisions based on my judgment and expertise.
The process itself is pretty straightforward. There’s a city standard form that you have to fill out, and you have to get some recommendations. I sent it in and didn’t think anything more about it, really, until I got the call that they wanted to interview me as one of the choices. I interviewed with the Planning Commission President, the Director of Planning, and the mayor’s aide, and then I left. A couple of weeks later the mayor calls me up and says, “I just wanted to congratulate you and ask if you would take the seat? And, in addition, I’d really like you to be my representative on the commission.”
Motzenbecker: We’re all very different, all the way across the board. There are professional designers, architects, landscape architects. There are people who have been neighborhood activists for a long time. There’s a real wide range of people. We don’t consult before the planning commission meeting. We each have a packet that we get sent. We each read it and we each formulate our own opinions and questions. We all come solo, so to speak. And then as the meeting progresses there’s interaction and conversation back and forth. But we’ve all been chosen because of our expertise and individual insights and how those will play out in the larger discussion.
What does it mean to be the mayor’s representative?
_SCAPE: Tell me about the other commission members and how you interact.
_SCAPE: Can you describe a typical meeting? Motzenbecker: The meetings are held bi-monthly and we have two meetings in one week, on Monday and Thursday. The Monday meeting is the large public hearing meeting, and that’s held in the City Hall in council chambers. The Thursday meeting is the working meeting, a “committee of the whole” meeting, where people who are in the process of going through land use applications bring their ideas to bounce off of us, get some insight and feedback, before they submit their final application for the larger meeting. So before each Monday [public hearing] meeting, usually on the Friday before, I get in the mail a packet of all the applications for that week. I just sit down, review them all, read them all through, make my notes, think of my questions, and compare it against the comprehensive plan and the zoning code. I get the feel for what’s going on, how it relates to the plan and the code, and come prepared with questions for each individual applicant.
Then at the meeting, if there are items that no one has any issue or disagreement with, either on the commission or in the public, those are put on the consent agenda. On consent there is no discussion, they’re just passed as they stand. Next, if there are any applications that have issues or if there is a denial recommended [by city staff], those are automatically discussed. Each project is presented by a city [planning] staff member and then the floor is opened for public comments. After that, we discuss our thoughts, and vote to approve or deny. Does the planning commission function primarily to be reactive to the applications that are coming in or are you setting policy going forward? Every
Motzenbecker: Residential projects from, I believe, 1-4 units do not come to the planning commission. There is a level of administrative approval that can be done for small projects. For bigger things, you would consult with a planner in the city’s One Stop service area and they could say, “Well, for what you want to do you probably need x, y, and z.” Then you would apply for those permits and they assign you a staff planner who will be your contact through the whole process. They’ll review your plans as the project progresses. The goal is to get the application to the point [with staff help] where it would be approved [by the planning commission]. Most of the recommendations that we get in our packets are for approval. Every now and again there’s a recommendation for denial, but the goal is for the staff to get to a point of approval. Then, if we have questions or concerns, we can discuss them at the meeting. _SCAPE: What was your learning curve like for all of this? Motzenbecker: Vertical. All the new planning commissioners go through educational sessions. We go through an ethics class and then it’s just, well, into the fire. _SCAPE: You mentioned at the beginning how this seemed like it might be something you’d be good at. Can you elaborate on that? Motzenbecker: As I got onto the commission and began to participate in the process, it became much more clear to me that it was very synchronized with a typical landscape architectural systems-based approach, as well as my keen interest in urban design. I find that my skill sets are very strong in getting people excited about an idea, bringing forth a big idea, and pulling the right parties together and aligned behind an idea. My skill set is stronger in bigger ideas and less strong in
decision we make is based on findings that uphold the comprehensive plan or uphold portions of the zoning code. It always has to relate back to one of those things. You can’t just say, “Nah, I don’t like the design of that.”
Motzenbecker: The planning commission’s role is to steward the comprehensive plan of the city. Every decision we make is based on findings that uphold the comprehensive plan or uphold portions of the zoning code. It always has to relate back to one of those things. You can’t just say, “Nah, I don’t like the design of that.” The staff reports outline what they feel are the applicable sections of the comprehensive plan and the zoning code that the particular application relates to. _SCAPE: What’s the typical process for someone to get approval through the city? Say I’m a developer with a big project or I’m a homeowner that wants to build another stall in my garage?
details. Those skills tend to fit very well into planning commission because it’s 95% listening. We’re listening to staff, we’re listening to the public’s testimony, and then we listen to each other. There’s a quote that says leadership is 80% listening, 10% questioning, and 10% talking. That’s exactly what the planning commission is. It’s about this idea of assimilating all this information being thrown at you in reams and reams, and to be able filter all that down to the essentials and ask the right questions -- or the SCAPE summer12 06
tough questions -- that other people may not see, and use that to guide a decision amongst colleagues. That’s where I see a really good fit because I think landscape architects, for whatever reason, tend to be really good at mediation, gaining consensus, and explaining things in a manner that’s understandable. _SCAPE: How political is the planning commission? Motzenbecker: I don’t think it’s any more or less than any other city body. For me it’s not. I have not been in any awkward situations ethically. There were some examples when I was going through the ethics class of, “You know, some developers may call you up and say, hey can you help me out with this? I’ll take you out to lunch.” None of that has ever happened to me. If anyone does call, you set them straight right from the beginning and say, “I just can’t do that. I can’t answer you that question.”
volition. We don’t go back and say, “Well, we did it for this project, we have to do it for this one.” Each project has to be considered on its own merit: its location in the city, what’s surrounding it, what are issues that are affecting that particular project.
That said, I think that if you go historically through the public record of our decisions, you’d find that this commission as a whole is pretty pro-density and growth in the appropriate way. Obviously, we make recommendations and create conditions if we feel it’s not appropriate. I think some members of the public struggle with that. It’s something I’m taking on as a personal challenge: to figure out how you talk to the public and help them not be so scared about something. When the Lagoon project was going on Uptown, there was, obviously, controversy: 12 stories proposed in Uptown. The city’s comprehensive plan states, right out, that the city will encourage
Something I’m taking on as a personal challenge is to figure out how you talk to the public and help them not be so scared about something. _SCAPE: Do you have any specific things in mind with the city system that could be improved? Motzenbecker: There are definitely things that could be improved, but being a first-timer it could be me, still learning the system. I would say one of the things that is probably a little difficult, as an applicant, is not really knowing what you need to get in the door. Finding out what you need for your particular project can be a little hard. I would see where an applicant could get frustrated with that. But, I would also ascribe it to just a general lack of knowledge about the system on the public’s part. I mean, how many people have to go through this on a regular basis? Not many. You have homeowners who just want to do an addition to whom this process is a completely foreign language. Overall, I think the city staff is fantastic and very underrated. The planners, like I said, their goal is to get us things that we can approve. And most of the reports that I read are outstanding, I mean, they nail all the things that I would have questions on. They manage to get applicants to a point where it’s usually only a few things that end up being discussed. _SCAPE: What issues are discussed most often, and can you describe the different points of view?
growth. We want growth. This city was at half a million people 50 years ago. Obviously, it was more dense at that time then it is now. I don’t think people understand that. I think they don’t understand the relationship that density has to economics, to the safety and vitality of street life. It all devolves back to a single argument of, “This is going to harm me.” _SCAPE: Are you seeing any tempering of that fear? Motzenbecker: I think people may have to adapt by default. A lot of the projects the Planning Commission sees are higher density, mixeduse kinds of developments that the City’s Department of Community Planning and Economic Development is pushing. They’re popping up down by the Veterans Hospital, and along Hiawatha Avenue, and in Uptown, and along the Midtown Greenway. That’s our goal, that’s our charge: to make sure that we’re doing this appropriately. I always keep stewardship in the back of my mind. I tell people that density is stewardship. This city was built around a beautiful park system: because of that, we have open space at the core of the city. By embracing density we’re stewarding more open space for the city, instead of forcing people out into the suburbs, taking up more green space.
Motzenbecker: Height and density. People always say, “Well, if you do that, it’s going to set a precedent.” But as we tell everybody, it’s rare that a precedent gets set. To legally set a precedent the projects in question have to be 98/99% identical in every instance. We consider every project on it’s own issue #5
_SCAPE: What has been your biggest lesson so far that you’ll take away from this experience?
Motzenbecker: A positive lesson: doing this job really has made me appreciate the need to push myself to explore all options; to not have a set opinion. There have been times when I’ve read my packets and I think, “Okay, I don’t like this. I don’t like what they’re doing here. I don’t like this, this, this, and this.” I have all my points outlined and then we’ll have the hearing and there will be a big public outcry. People will say, “Well, but this is happening and we’re doing this, and we’re doing this, and we’re doing this, and this is why we don’t want this variance.” There are times when the public testimony has totally and completely changed my mind. So, the ability to have a little bit of leeway and not be a final rigid cog in the wheel is very important.
The negative is the frustrating fact that sometimes the political process does take over outside of our realm. Because our decisions can be appealed, and when they’re appealed they go to the City Council, there are times when the City Council will override our decision. And the City Council is a much more political body by default because they have to focus on their constituents, who will write them and call them and visit them. It’s a little sad when our recommendations are overturned. I think, “Why are we here?”
But overall it’s been fantastic. I really enjoy participating in shaping the city at this level and being able to, hopefully, do it in a positive and thoughtful way. I think the insight that the landscape architecture profession brings to this process is rare. I think landscape architects always have, in the back of their minds, a systems-based approach to things. They see more than just plants. They see the region, the city as an interconnected whole. And I think that kind of insight is something that’s very important on a planning commission.
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Motzenbecker is in the middle of his two-year term, and hopes to be reappointed. He has been at oslund. and.assoc. since receiving his Masters of Landscape Architecture from the University of Minnesota in 2001. Prior to that he worked in advertising. He is active in the Urban Land Institute, and was the recipient of MASLA’s HWS Cleveland Award in 2005. 2005 HWS Cleveland Award Winner go to www.masla.org for more award winners AWARD WINNER
SCAPE summer 06
Rockin’ Saint Paul
The International Stone Carvers Symposium comes to Minnesota... and leaves behind 15 permanent works.
by Adam Regn Arvidson, ASLA
6 weeks, 10 countries, 15 Saint Paul metro area parks.
Even the name conjures up hot music-filled
days and warm nights of revelry and camaraderie. But the sounds emanating from Minnesota Rocks! (exclamation point required) this summer were not from electric guitars and drum sets, but from chisels and power drills. Nevertheless, the recently completed International Stone Carvers Symposium in Saint Paul drew crowds, was loud, and will “tour” its artistic creations around the city. “This is a gathering of artists living together over an extended period of time to create art for public view,” sums-up Christine Podas-Larson, president of Public Art Saint Paul, the organizer of the event. The “public view” part is key: not only will the completed works themselves be placed in parks in Saint Paul, St. Anthony, and Vadnais Heights, the public was able (nay, encouraged) to watch the art being made. The 14 artists, hailing from Minnesota, Egypt, Germany, Zimbabwe, and six other countries, spent their six symposium weeks on the campus of Saint Paul College, right on Kellogg Avenue in view of the Xcel Energy Center arena, carving away with the public freely issue #5
Peter Morales, creator of the above stone critter, was one of the Minnesota artists participating in the International Stone Carvers Symposium: Minnesota Rocks!
wandering among the works-to-be and chatting amongst each other and with the carvers. “I like talking with the people that come by,” grins Saint Paul-based Peter Morales. “It’s an excuse to take a break.” And for the viewing public, it’s permission to gawk and stare. This was the art process demystified. Yes, there is an essential vision, an artistic hand and mind at work to coax form from raw quarry blocks, but behind it all there is grinding and tapping and polishing and lots of dust and sweat and the ever-popular elbow grease. Minnesota Rocks! at once laid bare the workings of art, making it more technical than spiritual, and then re-amazed the viewers with end products so expertly crafted, so visionary, and still so rooted in the process they had been witnessing all along.
he International Stone Carvers Symposium movement began in the 1950s in Austria, during the escalation of the Cold War.
Prantl, frustrated by the division of Europe (and, in fact, the world) into spheres of influence, invited fellow sculp-
t sounds a bit like a summer concert tour: 14 artists,
Larson again about five years ago and they discussed it
further. That kicked off about 4 years of solid planning, tors to a local quarry for two months to create and discuss art. “It was a movement without schedule or borders,”
fundraising, and artist selection, which ultimately led to this summer’s event.
explains Podas-Larson. Prantl felt that artists could prove to the world that there was hope for peace, by creating a common language literally etched in stone. The works from that first symposium were placed near the Eastern Bloc / Western Bloc border to symbolize the stitching together of Europe. The artists went back to their myriad countries and started symposia of their own. Today, in the spirit of Prantl’s first gathering, there is no formal schedule for when these events take place. If a city wants one, it can organize one. Public Art Saint Paul (PASP) had been thinking about hosting a gathering for a long time, but the boulder began rolling slowly in the 1990s when artist Brad Goldberg was in the city working on Mears Park. Goldberg was trained as a landscape architect but practiced as a sculptor, and was a symposium veteran. He
then, and ran into Podas-
Artists at work: tools, dust, and the hands of creators were flying this summer as 15 public artworks took shape on the Saint Paul College campus. Shown here,top to bottom, in the works, are Peter Morales’ sandstone creature, Lourdes Cue’s granite canoe, and Sakari Peltola’s “Weatherman.”
Early on, there was a desire to root Saint Paul’s symposium firmly in Minnesota. Six Minnesota artists (David Wyrick, Craig David, Peter Morales, Michael Sinesio, Duane Goodwin, and Lourdes Cue) were chosen from 50 responses to PASP’s call for artists. Minnesota stone was provided as the raw material: granite from the St. Cloud metallic boulders from the Iron Range. When the artists arrived on site, they were offered two difficult choices: which stone and which site. Blocks of rock were scattered on St. Paul College’s lawn and a list of 28 sites throughout Saint Paul was provided. The artists were asked to join their vision, their block of stone, and their site and create a permanent work (two artists, Sakari Peltola of Finland and Pasquale Martini of Italy were pre-destined to St. Anthony and Vadnais Heights, respectively, due to sister
SCAPE summer 06
LINNEA LARSON, TOP AND BOTTOM; BRAD DANIELS, MIDDLE
and Mille Lacs areas, limestone from Mankato, and heavy,
city arrangements). The sites had been recommended
her beautiful work made me sigh with relief. Her dark
by neighborhood groups, on the condition that they take
boat’s hull was etched with careful pattern and the shiny
what the artist gives them. There would be no committee
half-globe cockpit was filled with water that took on the
review of proposals or work-in-progress. “We believe
color of ink.
strongly in artistic freedom,” explains Podas-Larson of PASP. “This would not be a usual public arts process
I watched Pasquale Martini create multiple blocks and
[where community groups are involved in the final
discs of limestone, then stack them to an impossible
product].” It is doubtful, however, that anyone will be
height. I saw Atsuo Okamoto’s collection of salvaged
Saint Paul paver bricks grow and fill the abstract shape
he had carved into an only slightly touched block of
and then being even more impressed with the result. I
David Wyrick: (Saint Paul)
Prospect Boulevard, south of the Mississippi, overlooking the city
Craig David: (Saint Paul)
Cherokee Park, near the southern city limits
Salah Hammad: (Egypt)
Mississippi River Boulevard, south of the Ford Parkway Bridge
Juergen Zahn: (Germany)
Mississippi River Boulevard, near the Ford Parkway Bridge
Peter Morales: (Saint Paul)
Hamline Park AND at Lexington and Jessamine
went to the symposium site on several occasions, to
watch the progress and satisfy my poorly-hidden geologic curiosity. Watching the works develop was
enlightening. I found myself hoping an artist would go a certain direction, coming back and finding they hadn’t, found myself pulling for certain artists, hoping they would get done in time. I found myself wanting to pick up a polisher, thinking this a menial task best left to laborers while the artist did more important things – then realizing this was the exciting final touch they would never give away. I chatted with Peter Morales, who made two separate works for two separate parks. He had started with some of the hard banded taconite, going through sawblades every hour or so, then switched to limestone. “That stuff [the taconite] was so hard to carve,” he sighed, “but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I had to try it.” Iron range rock is so remote and heavy that few artists could afford to bring some down to simply experiment. Both of his works are playful primordial critters with shiny eyes and shuffling gaits that will peek at passing traffic from Hamline Park and Lexington Avenue. I spent time with Sakari Peltola, who was pre-selected for a site that had not been designed for public art (in the interest of full disclosure, that site is Salo Park in St. Anthony, for which I was a lead designer while with Dahlgren, Shardlow, and Uban, Inc.). He struggled with location and with stone, as his customary granite was too riddled with seams for his liking. He settled on limestone and created a puffy cloud on a pedestal and a separate round-cornered weatherman (complete with necktie): an appropriate touch of whimsy in a somewhat grey park
Where to see the art:
Michael Sinesio (Ely): Como Park Lazarus Takawira: Lower Landing Park, near downtown (Zimbabwe) Saint Paul Lourdes Cue: Upper Landing Park, near downtown (Mexico/Minneapolis) Duane Goodwin: Mounds Bouelavrd at McLean (Bemidji) Atsuo Okamoto (Japan): Boyd Park Lei Yixin (China): Phalen Park
built around a pair of stormwater ponds.
Javier del Cueto (Mexico): Saint Paul College
I walked past Lourdes Cue many times without speaking
Sakari Peltola: (Finland)
to her, as she seemed far too intense in her extraction of a kayak from a block of granite. I worried about her, and hoped she would get done, and at the closing ceremony issue #5
Salo Park, in the new Silver Lake Village development in Saint Anthony
Pasquale Martini (Italy): Vadnais Heights City Hall
nent art, not the fleeting tones of another 80s cover band
he artists are gone now, back to their homes (or to other symposia).
The art has been moved
away from the College to a temporary storage
facility while the 15 sites are readied throughout August and September by Saint Paul Public Works. This city department’s participation is another item in a long
nor the subsiding thunderclaps of a death metal reunion nor the fading twangs of the next folk-pop starlet. Though the works created this summer will not be gathered in one spot ever again, the tour rocks on – all over town – for decades to come.
and diverse list of contributions, which
trade industry groups, the usual
Finished: the 14 artists worked feverishly for 6 weeks, creating permanent works for Saint Paul and surrounding communities. Shown here are works by Atsuo Okamoto, top right, Pasquale Martini, above, and Lei Yixin, left.
Adam Regn Arvidson is a Minneapolis-based landscape architect, and founder of Treeline, a design/writing consultancy. He currently serves as Director of Communications for MASLA and is editor of _SCAPE.
A treasure trove of landscape supplies and design inspiration.
foundations, landscape/stone supply company Hedberg Aggregates, and the City of Saint Paul; donated structural engineering expertise from TKDA; and time from more than 130 volunteers. If you missed the process, PASP has some in-progress pictures at www.minnesotarocks.org, but the newly completed works will soon grace the local landscape. I drove past the St. Paul College campus the other day and actually got a little sad. The site of so much activity and creativity is now just an open grassy field, brown with summer and 6 weeks of over-use. It looks, in fact, not LINNEA LARSON, ALL
unlike a big concert or fair had taken place – had blown into town and entertained us for a few weeks, then packed up and left before we were ready to end the fun. But the
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great thing about Minnesota Rocks! is that it made perma-
SCAPE summer 06
Non-Profiting Three Twin Cities organizations: their successes, their challenges, what they hope to accomplish in the future, and their views on a changing Minnesota by Veronika Phillips
eff Heegaard, Director of 1,000 Friends of Minnesota
Unlike 1000 Friends who are trying to achieve their goals
(1000 Friends), is not overly optimistic about the
through the arduous process of policy change, The Green
future of Minnesota’s landscape. He believes that
Institute is prompting action through tangible models.
Minnesotans have yet to come to the realization that this
The Green Institute has two particular programs that
is no longer the “land of sky blue waters and the Hamm’s
address sustainable building practices. The first program,
[Beer] Bear.” The land of sky blue waters is fast becoming
The ReUse Center, is literally a business selling high
part of Minnesota’s legend rather than its legacy. 1000
quality salvaged and green building materials. The ReUse
Friends is a Minnesota non-profit whose mission is
Center is the first of its kind in the nation. All materials
to promote balanced growth through policy change.
that are sold by the ReUse center come from donations
Heegaard notes that there are currently 1.8 million living
-- or from the other half of the business: DeConstruction
units in Minnesota and to accommodate growth in the next
Services. DeConstruction Services supplies the ReUse
25 years we will need to build another 1 million. He believes
Center with a stable supply of quality used materials from
that only through long-term and efficient planning that
contracted building dismantling crews. The goal of these
effectively directs investment will we be able to preserve
two projects is to reduce demolition waste going to the
what is left of Minnesota’s heritage; and that government
landfill, provide quality used materials for sale to the public, and create job
alone will not be able to act fast enough to change our growth habits. “People have to see their own long term prosperity,” he says, “tied to the health of our environment and communities.” Unfortunately, the momentum of growth is outpacing the problem solving capabilities of our citizens and leaders. Heegaard is positively evangelistic in his urgency and strong belief that change in our growth policy needs to be moving at a
opportunities for the commuPeople nity. Corey Brinkema, Director have to see of the Green Institute, their own long would like to make The term prosperity tied Re-Use Center and DeConstruction Services to the health of our profitable businesses and environment and to grow by 100% in the communities. next three years. Brinkema
more rapid pace than is now occurring or we
-- Jeff Heegaard, 1000 Friends
will be doomed to lose the woods, fields, lakes, rivers and streams that feed our souls. He and his
cut expenses 30% to 40% by reducing staff and reorganizing programs, which resulted in the
organization are calling upon the citizens of Minnesota to
business making the first profit ever.
start caring enough to get involved in their communities
Brinkema acknowledges that the reduction of staff was
and become knowledgeable about the issues jeopardizing
difficult because one of the central goals of this program is
their state and insist that their leaders also take action.
its social mission through job creation. Brinkema believes
Friends of the Mississippi (FMR)
there is a market for four to five additional reuse centers
Mission: To advocate a new vision for the Mississippi River, especially
in the metro area and plans are underway to open a new
the river and its watershed in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
retail store in the Brooklyn Park area.
Through active leadership and education, FMR seeks to preserve and restore the river’s fish and wildlife, its vital floodplains and scenic bluffs,
Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) is working on the
its natural and cultural treasures, its beauty, and its romance.
slightly less tangible goal of creating a value system that emphasizes conservation and environmental protection at
Staff: 3 part-time; 9 full-time
the personal level. Tom Lewanski, Conservation Director
Volunteer Total for 2005: Approximately 3600
at FMR, spends much of his time knocking on doors of
property owners to develop personal relationships with
2006 Budget: 1.4 million
people whose land is considered ecologically valuable
Largest Revenue Source: Government and Foundations
and warrants protection. Sometimes, as with the Pine
Current Geographic Focus: Dakota and Washington Counties
Bend Bluff Scientific and Natural Area, FMR manages
Programs: Land Protection and Restoration, Watershed Protection,
to secure land into public ownership and stewardship.
and River Corridor Stewardship
Pind Bend Bluff SNA is a 185-acre site in Dakota County, which offers tremendous views of the Mississippi River.
History: Founded in 1983, FMR’s primary goal was to advocate against
It boasts one of the most undisturbed sites along the
the construction of a steam plant along the river. In the mid-90’s, FMR
Mississippi River in the Metro area, featuring mesic oak
received funding from the Mississippi National River and Recreation
forest from the riverbanks to the top of 200-foot bluffs.
Area (MNRRA) to ensure that citizen participation was included in the
Lewanski began work on the Pine Bend Bluffs project in
planning process of an integrated MNRRA corridor. In 1998, FMR
2000 by meeting the four property owners. Lewanski built
refocused its work on land conservation in Dakota and Washington
a trusted relationship with the landowners and educated
Counties and the protection of the Vermillion River.
them on the significance of their land and the options they had for land preservation. Four years after Lewanski’s
2006 Environmental Awareness Award
initial meetings with the landowners, the DNR with the
Friends of the Mississippi River
help of TPL, received ownership of the land and created
go to www.masla.org for more award winners
the SNA. Lewanski has had some disappointments in securing lands, however. Even after years of meetings
deal. The other three neighbors soon followed. Lewanski has learned to manage his expectations because so much of his work is out of his control.
landowner relationships, decide to back out of the land dedication.
something mythological” minds
1000 Friends is the sponsoring organization
FMR’s Lewanski has learned to manage his expectations because so much of his work is out of his control.
regarding their land and they get very protective of it. Lewanski gives an example of a land acquisition project that was in the works for several years involving four neighbors who owned valuable prairie lands and were ready to sign the final land protection documents. At the last minute, for no known reason, one of the neighbors backed out of the
n an effort to jump start citizens and leaders,
some landowners may
working with other stakeholders on the Envision
Minnesota project. This project is an effort to convince candidates running for Minnesota state office in the 2006 election that conservation and environmental protection merit inclusion at the top of the priority list for Minnesota. An impor-
tant piece of the project is the Envision Minnesota document that summarizes the work of volunteers who, through focus groups and team deliberations,
have identified the most significant environmental priorities facing our state and provided strategies to address these priorities. Heegaard says that the Envision document is providing the candidates broad environmental direction “served on a silver platter” and that it is a “no brainer” for the candiSCAPE summer 06
dates to take these issues on as part of their campaigns.
the standards mandatory. Local governments, though,
He is tentatively hopeful that in the next five years, 1000
are already having difficulty enforcing current standards
Friends’ vision of a healthier Minnesota and the plans that
because they cannot keep up with the growth. Hunsicker
have been laid out by the Envision Minnesota project will
is discouraged by the examples of homeowners and
become implemented at the local level. Heegaard states,
contractors who deliberately ignore the current standards
“it is the last piece -- the implementation of the plan -- that
and build what and where they want. “People will shop
is difficult to make happen, and the most important.”
around for a builder who will disregard the regulations,” says Hunsicker, “because they have more money than
1000 Friends is also working with the Minnesota
they know what to do with and are willing to pay the fine
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to lessen the
[for not following the rules].” Hunsicker suggested that a
impact of development on the region’s lakes and rivers
solution to the problem would be to take the license away
through the creation of stricter shoreland standards.
from a contractor who blatantly disregards the shoreland
Phil Hunsicker, Program Director for 1000 Friends’ Lake
Area office is part of the advisory group who revised the outdated standards. The DNR is hopeful that through
The Green Institute is also trying to act as a catalyst for
education they will be able to get local units of government
change, by promoting sustainable building practices
to adopt the new standards on a voluntary basis. It will be,
through its Phillips Eco-Enterprise Center (PEEC). The
however, difficult for local governments who are experi-
PEEC, built in 1999, is a 64,000 square foot office and light
encing budget cuts to adopt the new standards because of
manufacturing “green building.” The Green Institute hired
the costs associated with enforcing more complex regula-
a development team who conducted research in sustain-
tions. Hunsicker believes that if the standards are not
able building techniques and came up with three primary
voluntarily adopted by local units of government in the
goals for the building: minimize the energy and material
next two to three years that the DNR may have to make
resources necessary to construct the facility, minimize operational energy consumption, and deliver a healthy
1000 Friends of Minnesota
work environment occupants.
The Green Institute’s Brinkema admits that the technology used for the Phillips EcoEnterprise Center is not state of the art; rather the idea is to do “green on a budget” by “taking lofty ideas and putting them into practice.” The Center is the first speculative “green” industrial building in the world.
Mission: To promote development that creates healthy communities while conserving natural areas, family farms, woodlands and water. To envision a Minnesota where citizens have choices about how their communities grow and have tools to make informed decisions about their future; cities and town do not sprawl into the countryside; growth occurs in a fiscally responsible manner, using existing infrastructure and offering transportation alternatives; and natural resources are protected. Number of Staff: 7 Members: 300 active households Budgeted Revenue 2006: $655,711 Budgeted Expense for 2006: $627,520 Largest Revenue Source: Foundations Geographic Focus: MN’s Growth Corridor Programs: Land and Water Conservation, Smart Growth, Growing by Design, Envision Minnesota. History: Grew out of citizens’ concerns with the serious ramifications of Minnesota’s sprawling growth patterns. The organization coalesced in 1993 as a program of the Land Stewardship Project. The Land Stewardship Project’s major focus is on the stewardship of farmland and the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices and preservation. In 1998, as an effort to focus more on smart growth, 1000 Friends of Minnesota incorporated as a separate non-profit organization. issue #5
According to is
the PEEC “green”
building in the world. But he admits that the technology used for the building is not state of the art; rather the idea is to do “green on a budget” by “taking lofty ideas and putting them into practice.” Brinkema said that the cost of building the PEEC with sustainable techniques cost between 2.5% to 3.5 % (or approximately $180,000) more than if built conventionally. The concept has appealed to
sustainable design practices will become commonplace and that the PEEC will be just one of many green build-
others and the building has seen a 5 to 10% increase in base
ings in Minnesota.
rents compared to conventional light industrial buildings
-- and achieved pay-back in five years. In addition, the site features a native prairie reclamation, onsite stormwater retention, and biofiltration system; and the building now showcases a green rooftop and will be hosting the North American Green Roof Conference in 2007. Although the PEEC is seven years old and sustainable technological innovations have continued, Brinkema said that Minnesota has not yet done much with sustainable design, so the PEEC will be a good model for another decade. It is Brinkema’s hope that in 10 to 15 years
reen does not just run on its own once preserved or built, however. As important as FMR’s work is in protecting rare and significant parcels of
land, it is equally important to have the resources for monitoring and managing these lands. Unfortunately, there are situations after a project is funded, planned, and implemented that the land is not maintained. The funding for ongoing management of a project is critical in maintaining plantings and keeping invasive species in check. As grant money comes and goes, or as landowner interests change, it is uncertain that a project will have the resources and the continued commitment to sustain the project. FMR looks for funding to do follow-up monitoring
Green Institute Mission: Sustaining the environment and our communities through practical innovation, focusing on donations and public purchase of quality salvaged and green building materials, generation of clean energy, learning how to manage stormwater and landscape sustainably, and working together to conserve and restore our environment. Dedication to conserving our natural resources and providing living wage jobs through local sustainable efforts. Number of Staff: 16 Volunteer Total for 2005: Approximately 100 Members: Not Applicable Budgeted Revenue for 2006: $3 million Budgeted Expense for 2006: $2.9 million Largest Revenue Source: Program fees associated with ReUse Center sales and DeConstruction fees and sales Geographic Focus: Regional Programs: The Reuse Center and DeConstruction Services, Phillips Eco-Enterprise Center, the Community Energy Program, Greenspace Partners, and the Green Buildings Program. History: The Green Institute was born in 1993 out of a 12-year battle to stop a proposed garbage transfer station. From this struggle evolved a strategy for job creation, materials recovery, and energy conservation. In 1995, with financing from a $7,500 grant, the ReUse Center program was founded and 2 years later DeConstruction Services followed. With the land from the proposed transfer station still available, The Green Institute wanted to do something positive with the site and a model of comprehensive sustainable design began in 1999, with the construction of the Phillips Eco-Enterprise Center. The Green Institute has since developed three additional programs. In total, these programs represent over $10 million in economic development for the Phillips neighborhood.
and management on protected land because they understand that it is important to maintain the projects that the public invested in. Methods to fund monitoring and management are included in some of the land acquisition programs used by FMR and money is sometimes set aside for these activities in the original land acquisition process. These sources of funding, however, provide only a small fraction of the resources needed to maintain these projects. Maintenance funding is a shortage FMR is acutely aware of and tries to minimize as much as the current system allows, but continued efforts need to be made toward securing monitoring and management funding.
ll three of these organizations rely on strong relationships with partners to accomplish their goals. The magnitude of what 1000 Friends
of Minnesota is attempting to accomplish in launching a policy that supports balanced growth could not be achieved without the support and unity of others. It is through coalition building and networking that 1000 Friends hopes to instill urgency in the leaders and citizens of Minnesota so they will take action to reverse the current uncontrolled growth trend. Having mutual collaborators is also important in keeping a positive attitude for the people on the front lines of these organizations. Hunsicker said, “It helps to have collaborators because then you do not feel like you are alone fighting for the cause. It is good to join forces with other organizations so you can lean on each other and bring in the reinforcements when you need help.” FMR performs an intricate dance with the multitude of partners and funding sources that support their efforts. Funding for a project can come from several of the grant SCAPE summer 06
programs now available for land protection.
It is easier to evaluate the Green Institute and FMR based
focusing a large part of their work in Dakota County and
on quantitative measurements. For example, The Green
progress is being made in protecting significant natural
Institute measures its success on the profit margin for
resources in the county. Much of this work is the result
the ReUse Center or by the number of sustainable build-
of the collaborative efforts between FMR and other stake-
ings built in the metro area. FMR measures their success
holders that were involved in the 2003 adoption of the
through the number of acres of land protected and
Dakota County Farmland and Natural Areas Program.
restored, by the number of volunteers who contributed
This program opened up funding for land purchase and
to their work, and by the number of projects completed.
easement through a $20 million bond referendum passed
Although it may be easy to measure success using quanti-
in 2002. The 2003 formation of the Metro Conservation
tative measures, it may not be the best indicator of the
Corridors program has been a boon to non-profit organi-
organizations’ successes or the most important contrib-
zations like FMR because it provides an easier route to
utor to their success. A true measurement of their success
acquire funding through the Legislative Commission on
is the translation of these numbers into a qualitative state:
Minnesota Resources (LCMR).
that of raising people’s awareness that conservation and
LCMR funding is difficult
environmental protection are a priority for Minnesota’s
to obtain as a single
current and future quality of life. All of these organi-
zations are raising peoples awareness, the question All of these effort to make is not how successful have they been in raising organizations the process awareness, rather is it happening fast enough. are raising people’s easier and m o r e All three organizations believe that they are awareness, the question successful, forward thinking, and that it will take time is not how successful have for the rest of the population to catch up. All FMR joined forces with have witnessed change, and all recognize that they been in raising other nonchange will happen in small incremental steps, awareness, rather is profit and that will eventually add up to a more substantial government leap toward change. Among them, the common it happening fast agencies to act as concern is whether that leap will take place before it enough. a unified group in is too late to land in “sky blue waters.” entity so in an
their request for LCMR funding. It is through these collaborative relationships that Dakota County has a more
optimistic future. Unfortunately, a similar referendum introduced in Washington County for the November 2006
1000 Friends of Minnesota is at www.1000fom.org
elections did not receive citizen support.
Friends of the Mississippi River is at www.fmr.org
policy in place. In the last thirteen years, 1000 Friends has
Veronika Phillips holds a Master in Landscape Architecture and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Minnesota. Veronika’s work after graduate school was at a non-profit specializing in restoring native habitats along the Mississippi River. Most recently, she has started her own business, Wild Ginger Outdoor Design, which allows her to continue in her commitment to promote the ecological health of the earth.
hese organizations operate programs and projects that use rhetoric, the written word, and action in different degrees to carry out their mission. In
The Green Institute and the ReUse Center are at www.greeninstitute.org
the case of 1000 Friends’ work toward policy change, it is difficult to measure progress without seeing the actual written many reports and sponsered many conferences that promote balanced growth and we have yet to see a change in our growth policy. Heegaard believes, however, that 1000 Friends has made smart growth ideals and language “part of our culture and nomenclature”.
â€œPenny Lane,â€? by Nathan Anderson, ASLA, is one of 20 secret gardens now showing at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Read about the exhibition and get a complete list of installations in topic:nature photo courtesy Dane A. Steinlicht
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