Based in South Minneapolis, Metro Blooms is a community-based nonprofit rooted in environmental justice and stewardship. It engages diverse communities across the city to create resilient landscapes. With its commitment to solving environmental challenges with equity and inclusion, Metro Blooms has evolved alongside the neighborhoods it serves.
The Mortenson Family Foundation began its partnership with Metro Blooms in 2019. The nonprofit was instrumental in supporting the Foundation as it invited community members onto its Environmental committee. Our updated, community-centered guidelines open up space for organizations like Metro Blooms to request broader funding, particularly to address racial inequities in environmental justice communities.
On August 26, 2023, Maryan Abdinur, the community relationship officer for our Sustaining Environmental Systems grant program area, visited Metro Blooms during an environmental workshop in lieu of a funder-only site visit. We’ll recap the work of the nonprofit, and explain what happened during the workshop.
Established in 1979 as a volunteer-powered garden recognition program with the City of Minneapolis, Metro Blooms became a standalone nonprofit in 2008. Its programs have always centered the community it serves, whether through rain garden workshops teaching residents how to clean stormwater or providing funding and other resources to help residents install sustainable yard practices.
Today, it is a go-to resource for community members and groups seeking to enhance their natural surroundings in a just, intentional way.
Metro Blooms believes that everyone has a right to clean air, land, and water, but realizes that not everyone has the same access. The nonprofit actively collaborates with diverse community stakeholders, recognizing the intersection of social and environmental issues. Through strategic partnerships, educational initiatives, and a multifaceted approach to community engagement, Metro Blooms ensures that the benefits of resilient landscaping are accessible to all.
“Collaborating with community members and deeply rooted organizations is at the heart of what we do.This is how we meet the unique needs of each community, showing up for residents where they’re at, moving forward together,” says executive director Laura Scholl. “It’s so much about removing barriers, so that people can really be part of environmental projects where they live. And it’s about making sure that the people most impacted by the work benefit the most, too, with opportunities for local training and employment, and beautiful, resilient spaces for connection to each other and to nature.”
For the environmental workshop in August, Metro Blooms partnered with the City of Lakes Community Land Trust (CLCLT). The three-hour event took place at the home of a resident for whom Metro Blooms had previously installed a perennial garden with native perennials and trees in the front yard. Its purpose was to reconnect with nature by providing community members with gardening skills and support to maintain plant health. Then they got to work weeding, tending the garden, and building community with each other.
Metro Blooms provided informational packets in multiple languages with guidance on what to consider for native plants and how to water them in the local climate. The community members engaged in conversation and offered ideas; one resident proposed starting a gardening club to trade seeds and share skills with other community members.
“It was amazing to see multiple community members of all abilities come together to learn with and from each other,” says Maryan Abdinur of our Sustaining Environmental Systems grant program area. “Individuals shared barriers they are experiencing in the upkeep of their gardens, what they are excited about, and how to support each other in the future. Metro Blooms staff shared what resources are available for the community at Metro Blooms and how to access them.”
The workshop helped to build community knowledge and develop a language around what a healthy lawn looks like. It gave participants a way to lead their community and create a space for communication.
“Metro Blooms believes that successful environmental work happens with and within our communities. All of us are inherently connected to each other, to our water, to the land, and all who share it,” says Laura. “By engaging, listening, and providing support with our resources, we hold space to foster and strengthen these connections within our communities.”