Cleaning up for Earth Day, weather permitting

Plus, Minneapolis Bike Week and Blooms Day

Volunteers gather trash at the 2011 Minneapolis Earth Day Clean Up. The 2013 cleanup was cancelled by snow. Credit: Submitted image
Volunteers gather trash at the 2011 Minneapolis Earth Day Clean Up. The 2013 cleanup was cancelled by snow. Credit: Submitted image

Minneapolis’ 20th annual Earth Day Clean Up event is April 26, which raises the question: It can’t happen again, can it?

Last year’s cleanup event was canceled by a rare — but unfortunately not rare enough — two-day April snowstorm. Assuming there won’t be a repeat, volunteers are expected to gather at 38 locations across the city to clear a winter’s worth of litter from Minneapolis’ parkland, beaches and streets.

The annual cleanup has been held each April since 1995. Organized by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the city’s Division of Solid Waste and Recycling, the event is about more than just spring cleaning. It’s meant to draw attention to the link between trash and water quality in a city where storm sewers drain into the Mississippi River and the Chain of Lakes.

The cleanup runs 9:30 a.m.–noon. Large groups are urged to contact event organizer Tom Godfrey (tgodfrey@minneapolisparks.org) in advance to see where they’re most needed. Otherwise, there’s no pre-registration necessary: Just go to minneapolisearthday.com, pick a site and show up.

“We recommend [to volunteers] if they have gloves, bring them, however we have gloves and bags,” Godfrey said.

The 2012 Earth Day Clean Up drew 2,000 volunteers who collected about 9,000 pounds of trash.

Pushing pedaling during Minneapolis Bike Week

The old Twin Cities Bike Walk Week is back once again this year, but it’s returning with a new name and a new spot on the calendar.

Minneapolis Bike Week runs May 4–11 with a week of events and activities meant to celebrate one of the top bicycling cities in the country and encourage new riders to get out on the streets. A sister event, St. Paul Bike Week, will run concurrently across the river.

“We’re phrasing it as the ‘next evolutionary step of Twin Cities Bike Walk Week,’” said Nick Ray Olson of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, the local nonprofit organizing this year’s event.

The new name reflects a change in the role of Bike Walk Twin Cities, a federally funded initiative that wound down last year. And in the past, many more people chose to participate in events by pedaling rather than walking, Olson said.

“We would love to see a ‘walk week’ happen,” he added. “… But, really, it became difficult to come up with events that cater to both bikers and walkers.”

The earlier schedule — a week in May instead of June — means the May 4 “Bike to Parks Day” kick-off event coincides with the 40th-annual May Day Parade and Festival centered on Powderhorn Park. It also means school will still be in session, so this year’s schedule includes a “Bike to School Day” on May 7 when Minneapolis Public Schools and local universities will encourage students to ride to class.

Olson said students in the district’s adaptive physical education classes will get a chance that day to test three- and four-wheeled adaptive bicycles at Washburn High School.

Commuter pit stops will open at various locations Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the morning and afternoon rush hours. Those bicycles that haven’t been out of the garage for a while may benefit from the free basic repair services offered at the pit stops, which will be staffed with mechanics from local shops.

“Bike to Local Businesses Day” on May 10 will be marked with block parities in six different neighborhood business nodes around town. Participating businesses plan to offer discounts, and some of the block parties will feature live music and other activities.

The Minneapolis Bike Week website (mplsbikeweek.org) was still under construction in mid-April, but Olson said it would soon include a full list of the week’s events, as well as way-finding services for less experienced riders. Those who pledge to ride via the website will be registered for prizes, including bicycles.

Blooms Day celebrates city gardens

Stop by Metro Blooms’ May Blooms Day event to pick up some plants, tour the metro garden expo and see who took home last year’s Minneapolis Garden Awards.

Blooms Day is the Minneapolis nonprofit’s annual kick-off to the gardening season. It’s also a chance to take one of Metro Blooms popular workshops for do-it-yourself tips to designing and building a raingarden.

The raingarden workshop cost $10, but otherwise admission to the event is free. Four other free gardening workshops are scheduled throughout the day. There will be food on-site provided by the Dandelion Kitchen food truck.

Blooms Day runs 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m. May 3 at Kenny Community School, 5720 Emerson Ave. S. For more information and a full list of events, go to metroblooms.org/bloomsday.php.