Active Places Demonstration Projects

In an effort to make neighborhoods more amenable to walking, biking and other forms of physical activity, we are funding 12 demonstration projects in 2016. 

These temporary, low-cost projects help illustrate how small changes to our surroundings make it easier for people to be physically active. And, by giving people opportunities to experience their neighborhoods in a new way, these projects also aim to build support and momentum for more permanent, long-term changes within communities.

These are the projects we are funding in 2016:

Arrowhead Regional Development Commission

In an effort to make the streets of Duluth more bikeable, the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) will install a temporary protected bicycle lane on Michigan Street in downtown’s central business district. 

Along with this demonstration, the ARDC will host educational events and provide opportunities for bicyclists, motorists, businesses, city engineers and community members to provide feedback on the demonstration. The long term goal of the project is to use this feedback to inform potential permanent construction of a protected bicycle lane in downtown Duluth.

City of North St. Paul

The densely populated suburb of North St. Paul has previously created a “living streets” policy that promotes the installation of bike lanes and sidewalks as new street reconstruction projects are completed. However, due to community members’ limited understanding about the policy and its benefits, it has been difficult to implement. 

Through this funding, the City looks to increase community support for the living streets policy and the changes and benefits that can stem from it. The City plans to install a temporary bike lane and sidewalk to show how these changes can connect the community and encourage community members to be more physically active. 

City of Spring Grove Parks Department

The City of Spring Grove is located in the southeastern corner of Minnesota and offers significant access to outdoor green space. The City’s Parks Department is hoping to complement the green space and encourage physical activity by creating three temporary walking paths near city parks and the swim center. 

The goal of this project is to provide information to community members about the long-term potential of the paths, encourage community members to voice their support and for the paths to eventually become a permanent fixture in the city.  

Clay County Public Health

The downtown areas of Fargo and Moorhead are less than two miles apart, but for many, there are significant barriers to travelling between the two cities. The communities face infrastructure that isn’t always conducive to travelling by foot or bicycle, which leads to a lack of connectivity and less physical activity. 

To address this, Clay County Public Health will add a pop-up, protected bike lane on Center Avenue as an extension of StreetsAlive, Fargo-Moorhead's annual open streets event. The goal is to build support for bike-focused improvements during a future reconstruction process and to inspire residents to advocate for better public spaces. 

Friends of the Finland Community

Finland, MN is located on Lake Superior’s North Shore, and has a population of under 200 people. Within the town, there is very little designated space for physical activity – especially paved spaces. This means that particularly the young people of Finland have limited options when it comes to pursuing activities they’ve expressed interest in, namely having a dedicated skate park at the Finland Community Center. 

With this funding, the Friends of Finland will temporarily transform the existing tennis court in Finland into a multi-use space, creating a portable skate park to encourage more teenage participation at the weekly open gym night. They will also work with other current and potential users of the space to maximize the usefulness throughout the demonstration, hopefully leading to a permanent reinvention.

Lyndale Neighborhood Association

In the densest part of the Lyndale neighborhood in Minneapolis, there is little to no green space for community members to utilize for physical activity. Many people in the area feel isolated and lack connections to other community members due to the scarcity of outdoor green space.

To improve this, the Lyndale Neighborhood Association will create a temporary greenspace near the intersection of Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue. They will also engage with community members, encouraging connections and building support for a permanent green area in the neighborhood. 

Metro Blooms

Over the next few years, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreations Board will remove thousands of ash trees from Minneapolis boulevards. Many would like to take this opportunity to introduce bioswale boulevards to the area, which would capture stormwater, improve the look of the neighborhood, encourage pedestrian traffic, improve the life expectancy of the trees and enable residents to play a role in building a resilient community. Unfortunately due to several barriers, making bioswale boulevards common practice is a difficult task.

With this funding, Metro Blooms will create a demonstration bioswale site in the Harrison Neighborhood in Minneapolis, to demonstrate the benefits of boulevard plantings to community members and property owners, in the hope that this project will inform citywide boulevard bioswale policies.

Mississippi Watershed Management Organization

In Minneapolis, the Lincoln School playground has fallen into disrepair after years of limited upkeep. The surrounding neighborhood is culturally and ethnically diverse and faces high poverty levels, sub-standard housing, underachieving schools and health inequities. A revival of this playground would improve the community by encouraging connections and creating opportunities for children to learn and play.

With this funding, the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization will partner with local stakeholders to explore ideas and options for future use of the Lincoln School Playground property, including the installation of temporary art displays, streetscape planters and a pop-up outdoor summer reading room. It will also work with active and retired teachers to develop project-related curricula for children. When the 2016 school year begins, the organization will roll out the work done over the summer and ask students to help design the future of the Lincoln Playground.

Project FINE

The city of Winona has seen a significant increase in its Hmong population over the last 20 years. Over time, it has become apparent that many Hmong community members face feelings of isolation and have less opportunities to engage in organized sports and other physical activities.

Project FINE aims to address these issues by hosting events throughout the summer featuring Tuj Lub, a traditional Hmong top spinning game. These events will be held at various Winona Area Public Schools, with the hope that they will inspire physical activity, curiosity about the Hmong culture and a stronger sense of community. Project FINE also intends to connect with Winona’s Parks and Recreation representatives, in the hope that Tuj Lub could potentially be included in their formal programs.

Southside Greenway Council

The proposed Southside Greenway has the potential to connect 12 parks and trails from Downtown to South Minneapolis, including Diamond Lake Park, Powderhorn Park, the Midtown Greenway, and West River Parkway. It would also be a gateway for safe bike and pedestrian travel, and would connect communities along the route. 

To advance the development of the Southside Greenway, the Council will help local community members host block parties along the route throughout the summer. This will give community members an effective and fun way to engage with their neighbors, translate a “paper proposal” into an experiential demonstration of the greenway that is more easily understood and determine support levels and neighborhood champions to help further momentum for the greenway.  

Transit for Livable Communities

Throughout St. Paul, there are many areas of high traffic that make it difficult for pedestrians to use the sidewalks, and there are often limited options for pedestrians to enjoy their surroundings. To encourage pedestrian travel and community connections, Transit for Livable Communities, with the Friendly Streets Initiative, will temporarily convert two traditional parking spaces in St. Paul into parklets.

Parklets attract sidewalk users, encourage pedestrian travel and help people reimagine public spaces in their neighborhood. Transit for Livable Communities will engage with community members throughout the project and get their feedback on the parklets. They will use that input to inform the formalization of a parklet policy for the City of Saint Paul, along with the formation of a network of small businesses who share a common interest in livability and sustainability endeavors. 

Urban Oasis

East 7th Street in St. Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood is a busy urban street, with four lanes of 30-mile-per-hour traffic and a dense mix of businesses, residential developments, churches and a state university. The area is also home to numerous, rich food traditions.  

Urban Oasis’s Edible Streetscape project will work to improve walkability of this area while exposing the public to the many food traditions of the area. They will do this by installing garden planters throughout the corridor, each featuring plants common to a different food tradition. The goal of this work is to help make the area more pedestrian friendly and honor diverse food traditions on St. Paul’s East Side.

These organizations were previously funded in 2015:

  • Asian Economic Development
  • City of Cloquet
  • City of Hopkins
  • Corcoran Neighborhood Organization
  • Friendly Streets Initiative
  • Healthy Duluth
  • Lake Street Council
  • Milaca Fine Arts Council
  • Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation
  • Venture Village Neighborhood

  • Making Healthy Choices Possible for All Minnesotans

    The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota tackles the leading causes of preventable disease -- tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating -- to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state.