First part of the Talk-It Hennepin speaker series from March 8th held at Minneapolis Public Library Central Library. Photo source: Plan It Hennepin
The oldest street in Minneapolis is spurring conversation. From the Walker Art Center to the Mississippi River, community members and users of Hennepin Ave are being asked, “What should Hennepin look like? What should it feel like? How can we preserve and honor its history?”
Plan-It and Talk-It Hennepin, an “artist-led” urban place-making process led by the Hennepin Theater Trust, along with its partners, Walker Art Center, Artspace, and the City of Minneapolis are tackling just these questions. Working to create a “re-energized and refreshed” Hennepin Avenue, the groups are working together and engaging the public to put forth development plans including public art concepts for the historic corridor. The yearlong initiative will lead to plans to include “recommendations for transit and infrastructure improvements, public art, streetscape designs and ways to increase cultural events and collaboration among the Avenue’s many cultural, business and educational organizations.”
Funding the creative placemaking project is a $200,000 “Our Town” grant awarded last year to the Hennepin Theater Trust from the National Endowment for the Arts, along with a $50,000 matching endowment from the City of Minneapolis.
For the first several months, efforts focused around conducting qualitative market research, connecting with users of Hennepin Ave and listening to their perspectives on how Hennepin Ave. could be improved. These interviews are particularly interesting as they include a kaleidoscope of perspectives, illustrating both the current positive (location, access, some amenities) and negative (illegal activities, lack of green space and public space) aspects of the site.
A few of the street interviews conducted by the Hennepin Theater Trust are posted below. The first, interviewing Lee Lynch, former CEO of advertising agency Carmichael Lynch, shares the transformation and some challenges of Hennepin Avenue experienced over the last 30 years.