As 2013 winds to an end, we find ourselves spending a lot of time planning for NEXT year. At Metro Blooms we’re writing work plans for 2014, anxiously awaiting the results of grant applications, and scheduling maintenance and installations for the coming summer. But I thought before the hustle and bustle of a new year begins, we should take a few minutes to remember the work that we’ve already accomplished, and the triumphs and lessons learned in 2013.
Metro Blooms started 2013 by taking on a project in uncharted waters for us: a KAP survey! We heard from 352 residents around Lake Nokomis about their knowledge, attitudes, and practices when it comes to water quality and we learned a ton. Homeowners around Lake Nokomis are quite smart when it comes to water pollution and runoff leaving their yards. They are also very connected to their lake; they care about it and they want to do something to improve it. If you want to read more about the results, check out the report here.
Lesson learned: No one that lives near Lake Nokomis is home between 4-7pm
After the survey was done, we started reaching out to people that lived near the lake to schedule site consultations to see what could be done on their property (specifically in their alleyway) to protect Lake Nokomis (you know, can we put a raingarden in your backyard, can we make your driveyway permeable?). By the end of the summer we had completed 33 site consultations with people that lived near the lake. But it wasn’t easy to find all of these people! We tried doorknocking, calling people, yadayadayada, but the BEST tactic by far was having community members that were interested ask their neighbors to participate. In fact, we just received funding from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota to work with a few of these blocks to work with community members to make REALLY COOL concept designs for alleyways. So thanks neighbors, you really helped us out!
Lesson learned: People like their neighbors more than they like us
So now that we knew all of this information about residents, we wanted to learn about businesses. We talked with 9 business owners around Lake Nokomis (I know, we’re being geographically picky) about water quality and guess what? That was super interesting too! Turns out business owners don’t know about the programs that exist to incentivize (I may have made that word up) raingardens, permeable pavers and the like. Therefore, installing these practices doesn’t seem financially feasible. Once they knew about these options, nearly all of the businesses we talked to were interested in finding out what could be done on their property. Want to read more? Check it out here
Lesson learned: We need to be better at sharing information with businesses
Wow, enough about Nokomis. I’ve already posted about our Neighborhood of Raingarden projects from 2013, but for a super quick overview….We worked with five neighborhoods, East Calhoun, Bryn Mawr, Victory, Audubon, and Holland, to install 56 raingardens that protect our Minnesota lakes and rivers. That’s fifty-six new residents that gave up part of their yard to make a difference in water quality; we applaud you:)
But they’re not the only people that installed raingardens. 2013 marked our 9th year of raingarden workshops. This year, we expanded the workshops to cover more healthy landscaping practices and almost every workshop had a design session to make sure everyone got their questions answered. In October we surveyed the attendees to find out that 31% had already installed a raingarden, and another 10% were in the process of installing one!
Lesson learned: We need more workshops!
In addition to teaching people how to install raingardens, we also have a troop of dedicated volunteers that evaluate them, along with other beautiful gardens in Minneapolis, each year. Again, I’ve already posted about the evaluations and awards, but let’s just say the evaluators did an amazing job discovering the beautiful gardens of Minneapolis. We had 104 volunteers evaluate 1051 gardens in just a couple of months! The program finished up with a wonderful Garden Awards Gala in November to recognize the amazing people that work so hard to beautify our city.
Lesson learned: Columbia Manor has DELICIOUS desserts
In the midst of the raingarden installations, evaluations, surveying, and workshops, we had a couple other projects going on too. Our landscape designer Andy spent many, many hours working with the Conservation Corps of MN to maintain raingardens at schools throughout Minneapolis. We’re now working to get those schools stormwater credits to save them mucho bucks every year. I spent time last spring and this summer/fall working with students in 10 different schools to teach them about raingardens and water quality. We worked with business owners in Linden Hills to design stormwater features for their properties, we had an uber fun garden party, a terrific turnout at the annual Rock for Raingardens, gained a GreenCorps member, and hosted two delicious pot luck lunches with Gardening Matters.
And that’s all! Except for the things I probably forgot. We’ve had an eventful, busy, and fantastic year. So, 2014, bring it on, we’re ready!