A day in the life - at Towerside, the MSP Innovation District

I have the privilege of being the Implementation Consultant for Towerside, the MSP Innovation District. I collaborate with many stakeholders and subject matter experts. It's a complex, challenging and oh, so worthwhile endeavor. Inspired by a forward-thinking community (Prospect Park) and now supported by over 33 organizations (Prospect North Partnership), this district is already on the verge as a vibrant, energetic and happening place. It's 370-acres where the two world-class cities of Minneapolis and St.Paul merge, a mix of old and new with the common bond of opportunity. 

Developing an innovation district is a commitment to goals. It requires sound strategies implemented through a myriad of details.  It’s easy to get caught up in those details, the challenges, the magnitude of communicating with so many important stakeholders, and the fundraising. So I decided to kick-back for a minute and imagine what this place will be like, to remember why we are doing this.

“I am a resident of Towerside. I wake up in a place that respects diversity and equity. A place where people of different cultures and different socioeconomic backgrounds live side- by- side. A place where we pull up a chair on ‘Green Fourth Street,’ our shared backyard and exchange a recipe or two. A place where we become friends. In this place, I move my body towards health through a connected greenspace taking breaks to enjoy the art. I live without a car and for certain, without two cars. I hop on the Green Line to either city. I walk to a class at the U of M. I try my hand at felting at the Textile Center and daily, I learn and I am intrigued by the growing system of water re-use and sustainable innovation that surrounds me. I walk to the grocery store and pick local produce from the community garden. I live in an engaged, enlightened, interesting urban village that stimulates my mind and senses. I am a part of a community.”

“I am a business owner in Towerside. My team has mobility options such as the light rail and bus, walking, biking and driving. We leverage our proximity to the University of Minnesota, a top 10 research institution, connecting to innovate and grow our business. Some of our employees live in the very building in which they work. Our employees love our net zero building and the fact our heating and cooling source is renewable while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Social times are spent in nooks and crannies of local restaurants, coffee shops and green space. Outdoor social spaces with public wireless connectivity allow employees to experience nature while being productive at the same time. We are enriched by programs that make available a diverse pool of employees.”

I want to sit and wonder what it will be like to be a visitor to Towerside, a student in Towerside, a developer in Towerside……but the details are calling.  It’s time to finish the network of greenspace and parks, to develop another innovative idea for the District Energy system, to launch a program to bring people and culture together, to listen to the many stakeholders that will make this a rich, inviting and invigorating place – for the people that live, work and engage - in Towerside.

- Julie Kimble, Implementation Consultant