Terrace Thursdays, July 25, 2019. Photo: Awa Mally. Courtesy Walker Art Center.

This is an exciting moment of change for Minneapolis, with years of uncertainty giving way to opportunities for reinvention. The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Foundation are joining forces to elevate the ongoing community dialogue about what’s next, and to ensure new and inspired voices have a stake in the revitalization of downtown and our city as a whole. 

This spring, the two organizations are co-presenting Abundant Cities, a series of free talks that brings together innovators working in Minneapolis and around the country to define new visions for urban areas.

“Our goal is for this series to spark community discussion and action, building a cohort of change-minded residents who care about the future of Minneapolis,” said R.T. Rybak, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation. 

The series concludes on May 17 with Building Common Ground, a panel discussion that will dig into several examples of transformative urban design projects, here and in other cities around the country.

Featured speakers include:

  • Jason Foster, President and COO of Destination Crenshaw, a reparative development project under construction along Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles that will be the largest Black public art project in the U.S.
  • Scott Kratz, Senior Vice President of Building Bridges Across the River, who has spent the past decade working with the nonprofit and city government of Washington, D.C. to transform an old freeway bridge into a park above the Anacostia River.
  • Witt Siasoco, a Minnesota-based visual artist whose work falls at the intersection of art and civic engagement.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Walker Art Center.

Envisioning a city that works for everyone

“We center this conversation on downtowns because that is prevalent to the rebirth of our cities…. Downtowns are the most visible manifestations of a thriving city, so we want to put our attention there,” said Abundant Cities moderator Adair Mosely, CEO of the African American Leadership Forum, during the first panel in the series, a conversation about the future of downtown.

“This series invites and challenges our community to redefine what makes cities work,” said Mary Ceruti, Executive Director of the Walker Art Center. “How can we elevate our thinking to push beyond traditional definitions and reimagine Minneapolis as a place that works for everyone?” 

This redefinition is informed by a variety of speakers with diverse perspectives and expertise in urban planning, economic development, creative placemaking, and more. The most recent Abundant Cities event focused on strategies to make Minneapolis more inclusive and welcoming to all residents.

“We should be ready for transformation.”

COVID-19 has had a seismic impact on cities all over the world. As the pandemic ushered us indoors,   homes became our dining, shopping, and sometimes working centers. The long-term effects on downtowns are likely to be profound, predicted panelist Tom Fisher at the Abundant Cities event in March. “We shouldn’t get discouraged,” said Fisher, director of the Minnesota Design Center at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design. “But on the other hand, we should be ready for transformation.”

One transformation envisioned by changemakers seeking to increase the vibrancy of urban areas is a blurring of the boundaries between spaces once dedicated to single purposes such as working, eating, or playing. As local artist and community leader Gabrielle Grier put it, “Things that used to be mutually exclusive—it’s now time for us to think about how to fuse them.”

Join us in considering the possibilities at the last Abundant Cities event on May 17. Register online here to reserve your ticket.

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Abundant Cities brings together innovators working in Minneapolis and around the country to define new visions for urban areas.