Blooming Alleys is a program of Metro Blooms that aims to protect waterways, create habitat, and transform communities by working with blocks of residents to re-imagine what their alleyway looks like and how it functions. The goal of Blooming Alleys is to reduce the volume of stormwater runoff flowing to the alleyway while creating a beautiful community space. Metro Blooms is planning to install a variety of features, such as raingardens, that serve to reduce runoff and filter pollutants before they reach neighboring bodies of water. By completing these projects at a neighborhood-scale, Metro Blooms is able to educate neighborhoods about runoff pollution and its effects on local bodies of water. Alleys are the focus of this project because they contain polluted runoff from driveways and backyards, and have the potential to become a social space for the neighborhood.
Metro Blooms installed a single demonstration alley in the summer of 2014, involving 10 residents in the Nokomis neighborhood. Metro Blooms has plans to complete 15 more Blooming Alleys in Nokomis, 5 in the Lynnhurst Neighborhood, and 5-7 in the Diamond Lake watershed. These projects seek to decrease bank erosion and flooding, expand pollinator habitat, and improve conditions for aquatic life and recreation. By capturing runoff in the ground before it flows into the lake, water can be cleaned and cooled in the soil rather than reaching a body of water immediately. Residents do not pay until the installation phase, and then residents will be able to participate in a cost-share payment method.
In order to accomplish these goals, Metro Blooms is planning to coordinate efforts among organizations with similar missions. Those involved include Master Water Stewards, Master Gardeners, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, The Conservation Corps, Blue Thumb partners, The City of Minneapolis, and neighborhood volunteers.
Each participating block is headed by an Alley Captain who has expressed interest in the project to Metro Blooms. Metro Blooms assists the Alley Captain in involving the block and hosting an educational Alley Party, where Metro Blooms and Master Water Stewards explain ways that residents can improve stormwater management on their properties. Metro Blooms will give information to neighbors interested in altering their stormwater management practices, but unable to commit to the Blooming Alleys project. Those interested in pursuing a cost-share project will receive on-site evaluations for potential projects from Metro Blooms, and the installation of these is completed by The Conservation Corps. Metro Blooms will provide additional resources on Blooming Alleys maintenance, and Master Gardeners and Master Water stewards will assist at neighborhood maintenance events after the projects have been completed.