This article originally appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of Northern Gardener.
Over the past year, MSHS has been helping create connection through gardening at the intersection of Como and Rice streets in St. Paul through our Minnesota Green program. At the Como-Rice intersection, MSHS, the City of St. Paul, the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board (CAAPB), Clear Channel, Hmongtown Market and the Women’s Junior League of St. Paul have worked together to establish a garden where once only cracked asphalt lay.
The goal of this partnership is to create a community space that encourages positive, face-to-face interaction between people and develops an otherwise underused space as a community asset. Participants call this “placemaking.” Active placemaking creates places that are worth caring about, and fosters initiative in people to care for them over time.
CAAPB initially approached MSHS after receiving funding through the city’s Commercial Vitality Zone grant.
“We worked with the city, stakeholders and community members to develop a community-based strategy for lower Rice Street here in the Capitol area,” explains Peter Musty, CAAPB principal planner and zoning administrator. “It always helps if you start with a simple idea, and then ask for help. In this case, the idea was to transform the look and feel of a public space in the heart of the district. Then all it took was good old Minnesota volunteerism to figure out how to make it happen. It’s like a barn-raising; seemingly impossible if you take it on yourself – but if a committed and caring community shows up, things happen quickly.”