For our first Volunteer Spotlight, we have Mark Pedelty, a University of Minnesota professor whose involvement with Metro Blooms stems from some really interesting experiences. You might ask why a communications professor who grew up working in a cattle auction in Northern Iowa, spends his summers in Washington State, and plays in an Americana Rock band would take interest in an organization like Metro Blooms.
Well, Mark just stumbled upon Metro Blooms in 2009 while engaged in other work. He was working on a water quality campaign in the Powderhorn Neighborhood of Minneapolis when someone referred him to Metro Blooms, which was carrying out a large project in the same place. After meeting Becky Rice, Metro Blooms’ Executive Director, he started working on engaging Powderhorn residents in building raingardens on their properties. This eventually translated to an hour-long film detailing the Powderhorn Neighborhood Raingarden Installation Project. Since the creation of this film, which took two and a half years to make, Mark has been lending a hand to Metro Blooms in various ways. Most recently, he performed with his band, Hypoxic Punks, at Metro Bloom’s 3rd Annual Rock for Raingardens Event. The event provided a night of entertainment and support for Metro Blooms fans.
On a second look, it may not be all that surprising that Mark is a great supporter of Metro Blooms. As a communications professor, he studies people’s experiences and perceptions of the environment around them. Beyond that, he helps students engage in today’s most pressing environmental issues by teaching an Environmental Communication class each Spring. Next year, Mark is partnering with Metro Blooms to teach this class, which will give students a hands-on experience in engaging the public on environmental issues. The culmination of this class will be a raingarden installation on the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis Campus.
It’s interesting that most of Mark’s hobbies and activities relate in some way to the environment, even playing in band. This particular hobby started as a research experiment in which Mark studied people’s reactions to the music his band played. He enjoyed the experience and continued with it as a hobby. Now, he uses this talent to help out Metro Blooms, too. His other interests, with the exception of playing fantasy football and poker, also show his appreciation for the environment; he likes to hike and paddle. Even on Mark’s bucket list are plans to improve the environment in some way. For example, as a future project, he wants to do a spectrographic analysis of soundscapes, and study their effect on human and animal communication. This is a fancy of way of saying that he wants to know how noise, especially from urban areas, affects how humans and animals communicate. If his study shows that the effect is negative, for example, noise abatement policies might be put in place to reduce the impact.
Metro Blooms is grateful to have volunteers like Mark, who offer invaluable support to our work. In the coming months, we’ll be highlighting more of our great volunteers who’ve done spectacular work and continue to do so! Stay tuned for our next spotlight!