From Brownfields to Breweries

November 24, 2015, 10:18 am
Surly Destination Brewery, 2015 Minnesota Brownfields ReScape Award for Economic Impact (Photo: Paul Crosby)

Surly Destination Brewery, 2015 Minnesota Brownfields ReScape Award for Economic Impact (Photo: Paul Crosby)


Finding Possibility in Unlikely Places

Why in the world would a foundation encourage the growth of breweries?

The answer has nothing to do with beer and everything to do with the increasing need to attract millennial talent in our region as aging baby boomers retire and a labor shortage looms on the horizon. Breweries are one signal of urban vibrancy that gives the Twin Cities a competitive advantage in terms of recruiting and retaining fresh talent. In addition, cleaning up once unused, polluted spaces and transforming them into places of commerce and community is one way to achieve economically efficient development, which is an important strategic goal of McKnight’s Region & Communities program. The ongoing challenge of attracting new businesses and stable jobs back into the central areas of the Twin Cities requires smart and creative use of limited resources. Redeveloping brownfields is a worthwhile investment given that creating people-rich places and transit-oriented connections reduce the need for cars, enhance economic vitality, and advance a prosperous, low-carbon economy.  Read the rest of this entry »

Transit Ideas in Motion

October 20, 2015, 3:37 pm
A rush at St. Paul's Central Station (Photo: Central Corridor Funders Collaborative)

A rush at St. Paul’s Green Line Central Station (Photo: Central Corridor Funders Collaborative)


Transit Options Lead to Savings, Better Health, Cleaner Air

We are in a golden age for transportation alternatives in the Twin Cities. No longer are commuters limited to merely one gas-guzzling option. In a few short years, the metro region has seen two light rail lines and a growing number of new bus rapid transit lines, bike and car-sharing programs.  The convenience of all these options is leading many to rethink how they move around. More and more people are beginning to realize they can save money, protect the environment, and improve their health by considering alternatives to driving.

All of these individual acts collectively make a difference. And now, there’s a new initiative to encourage employers to make it easier for workers to change their commuting habits. This spring, Transit for Livable Communities (TLC), a McKnight grantee, and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) piloted a program called “Rethinking Transportation in the Workplace” to help organizations located along the Green Line create a transit-friendly environment for their staff and visitors. Read the rest of this entry »

Valuing Artists: The McKnight Artist Fellowships

October 9, 2015, 11:06 am

McKnight Artist Fellows Jacqueline Ultan and Michelle Kinney from the video “Valuing Artists”

A Long Tradition of Honoring Artists

Here at The McKnight Foundation, the annual celebration of McKnight Artist Fellows is one of our favorite evenings of the year. In September, we celebrated the new 2015 cohort of 42 talented artists along with the eight administrative partners that make our program possible. The event is a chance for fellows to meet and catch up with other fellows, sowing the seeds for future connections and collaborations across geographies and disciplines.


Ceramic Artist Fellow Mike Norman in “Valuing Artists”

Over the course of more than 30 years, over 1,500 individual artists have received support through the McKnight Artist Fellowships Program. Through the program, fellows receive $25,000 no-strings-attached cash awards honoring their accomplishments as ceramic artists, choreographers and dancers, composers and musicians, playwrights and theater artists, visual artists, writers and media artists. By supporting these artists, we help them to continue contributing to the vibrant and culturally rich state in which we live. Read the rest of this entry »

Collaborative Crop Research Program Looks Back

September 25, 2015, 11:17 am


andes Stand Mistura 2012 Peru Comm. Quilcas -Stef de Haan Yanapai

Potato farmers of Grupo Yanapai, in Lima, Peru (Photo: Stef de Haan)

New report reviews three decades of strengthening food security

Since the early 1980s, The McKnight Foundation has funded agricultural research around the globe with the goal to help farmers feed their families and communities. A recently completed history of the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) delves into the origins of the program from the early 1990s to the present. The Foundation’s commitments to innovation, sustainability and collaboration are clear themes that emerge from  the report.  The CCRP seeks innovations in both the “what” and the “how” of agricultural research. The “what” focuses on generating agricultural knowledge, concepts, and technology that farmers can use on the ground and that promote economic, environmental, and social sustainability. The “how” of the program has grown and matured over time yet one key ingredient includes crossing boundaries of all kinds, including by discipline, geography, and sector. This kind of cross-boundary collaboration is recognized as an essential element of innovation, and it is at the heart of the program. Read the rest of this entry »

Mississippi River Program Navigates New Currents

September 16, 2015, 11:53 am


Shifting water quality issues

Over the past few months, I have had the good fortune of engaging with several McKnight board members and staff members to examine new ways of focusing the Mississippi River program’s strategies. Mississippi River water quality is one of those glass-of-water issues that can look half-empty or half-full depending on one’s perspective. A lot of the news over the past several months – from southern Minnesota’s algae-filled lakes to Iowa’s heated lawsuit about nitrates in the Raccoon River – provides convincing evidence that the glass is half empty. But then you can also read about the remarkable comeback of Mississippi River mussels, the return of bald eagles, and the substantial progress that farmers have made in reducing nitrate loss and instead be convinced that the glass is half full.

Read the rest of this entry »