As I walked along University Avenue from Western Avenue to Lexington Parkway during the Open Streets event a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that all the people and activities were centered around the Green Line station areas at Western, Dale, Victoria and Lexington, where there were local ethnic shops and restaurants, arts and crafts for sale, activities for children, and neighbors greeting one another. In contrast, the blocks between stations seemed incredibly long. Even though it was a beautiful day, there was very little to see along the way. There were no displays in store windows, no sidewalk cafes, no attractions to encourage people to walk from one station to the next. The Green Line trains passed by from time to time, the sidewalk was newly paved and lined with smallish trees that will someday provide shade and greenery, and there were a few colorful murals on the sides of buildings, but mostly it was pretty bleak and dull.
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Having worked on the Stops4Us campaign to add stations at Western, Victoria and Hamline, I knew it was only a half mile between stops, but the walk seemed interminable, even though it was a beautiful day. I wondered how we might enliven the avenue, so that it would draw people to walk, linger, and discover new delights along the way. It seemed as if it would take a long time and a lot of work to transform the spaces between stations.
Then, today, in my e-mail, the answer arrived. A friend from the Frogtown neighborhood forwarded this set of images to Carol Swenson, at the District Councils Collaborative, and she forwarded them on to me and others. In the e-mail, they were referred to as “graffiti”, but I would prefer to call them Green Art.
When I finally tracked down the original source of the collection, I found it was Sara Udvig, Executive Director of the Summit-University Planning Council, who is also an artist. I’m hoping to get more information from her about the images next week and will pass it on streets.mn readers. Stay tuned.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to commission local artists to fill the blank walls and sidewalks between stations along the Green Line with a parade of Green Art that would change with the seasons?