Great River Passage Initiative Programs

Connecting People and the River

Phase 1: Catalyst

Program and Event Implementation 2017 - 2018

In its initial phase, the Great River Passage served as a catalyst to developing new programs through deep and mutually beneficial partnerships. The work was defined by a 17-mile, 3,500 acre river-wide assessment of programs, events and relationship-building between city departments, core river stakeholders, agencies and nonprofit partners. The new offerings address programmatic gaps with annual traditions for the public to deepen their relationship to the river.

Phase 1 Programs 

Phase 2: Community

Public Cultivation and Education Strategy 2019 - Current

Our community building and education strategy connects people to place and project. We take a focused and deliberate geographic approach to engage a wider public with the river. Through unique experiences that bring together river research and site storytelling we aim to build the public’s value and stewardship for the river.

Simultaneously, we also engage what we call “project communities” around Great River Passage Initiative Capital Projects to help people see what the river is and what it could be. The project communities serve in targeted ways during the design process, empowered to do what they do best, whether as decision makers, technical experts, or long-time users. We initially connect with land and business owners, jurisdictional bodies, and institutional leaders as our primary stakeholders and then reach outward, in concentric circles, expanding our collaboration to include organizations with programmatic or financial interest in the area, river users and the larger community.

Cultivation Activities:

River 101: A series of maps and readings that brings together various sources of river knowledge. Produced in collaboration with the University of Minnesota River Life, this series will be a tool to build the public’s river literacy (curiosity, knowledge, and understanding) of the Saint Paul stretch of the Mississippi.

River Sessions: Place-based activations of capital project sites, River Learning Center, East Side River District,and River Balcony. These activations will be presented by experts from diverse perspectives introducing the public to the complex layers and stories of these landscapes.

Community Story Gathering: A multidisciplinary story and image gathering project engaging East Side neighbors in conversation about their relationships to the river and natural world. In partnership with youth from Urban Roots and The Other Media Group this project is a pilot for a potential ongoing effort to expand the conversation and language of the environmental movement through the arts.

River Neighborhood Cohort: Bringing the river to Saint Paul neighborhoods to build residents' identity and connection with the Mississippi. A model of community engagement rooted in experience and education to deepen residents’ role and contribution to the Great River Passage.

Contact angie.tillges@ci.stpaul.mn.us if you would like to participate.