Open Streets Winter Institute

I had the pleasure of presenting at an all-day Open Streets training session on Tuesday, February 7, 2012, at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota.  The Open Streets Winter Institute was organized following the success of two regional Open Streets events:  Streets Alive in Fargo-Moorhead, and Open Streets Minneapolis.

As the lead organizer of Open Streets Minneapolis, I gave two presentations to an audience of about 35-40 people.  The first presentation focused on event planning, including how to gain acceptance, communicate with businesses, determine a budget, select a route and neighborhoods, and gain all required approvals.  The second presentation highlighted implementation specifics, including logistics, support networks, volunteer preparation, complementary activities, and outreach before the event.  Rory Beil and Keely Ihry—lead organizers of the Streets Alive ciclovia—presented on similar topics based on their experiences in Fargo-Moorhead.

Participants at the Winter Institute expressed excitement about the possibility of starting new Open Streets initiatives statewide.  I was pleased to see that most of the attendees work for cities; few were representing non-profits or other organizations.

The Winter Institute used videos produced by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota to help tell the story of regional applications of Open Streets initiatives.  The videos can be found on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota YouTube channel.  The Open Streets Minneapolis video focuses specifically on the priceless value of community partnerships, and includes interviews with some of the key figures who helped make the initiative possible, including city staff, local businesses, and city council members’ staff.

The Open Streets Minneapolis—A Community Partnership video can be watched below:


The Winter Institute concluded with an opportunity to apply for competitive sponsorship funding for statewide 2012 Open Streets events.  Through its Prevention Minnesota work, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is awarding sponsorships ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 (per event) to support the planning and execution of strategic Open Streets in 2012.

Open Streets Minneapolis is an initiative of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition.  Please stay tuned for updates about the event we're planning for June 10th, 2012!

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