12 Knight Green Line Challenge winners will share $574,000 for St. Paul neighborhood projects

 Twelve winners have been chosen in the second year of the Knight Green Line Challenge, a contest designed to make neighborhoods around St. Paul’s new light rail line more vibrant places to live and work.

The challenge drew 358 applicants this year; the 12 winners will share $574,000 to help put their ideas into motion. Last year, 16 winning ideas shared $530,000.

The rules say the ideas have to:

Take place in and benefit at least one of six St. Paul neighborhoods along the Green Line: Downtown St. Paul, Frogtown/Thomas-Dale, Hamline Midway, St. Anthony Park, Summit-University or Union Park.

They should also tap into the potential of the Green Line to create impact in one or more of three key areas: 1) exciting current residents and attracting newcomers to the Central Corridor; 2) expanding economic opportunity and breaking down divides; 3) strengthening a culture of civic engagement.

The winners are:

  • Charles and Griggs Bikeway Tool Station, Erin Pavlica, $4,410. To install a bike tool station at the intersection between the Charles Avenue and Griggs Avenue bikeways where riders and residents can stop, connect and learn more about bike maintenance.
  • E=MC2,We Lighting LLC, $45,000. To strengthen the connection between downtown and the Mississippi River by creatively lighting the Sibley underpass.
  • Friendship Forest, Amanda Lovelee, $43,000. To catalyze civic involvement by engaging a diverse group of residents in the planting of 500 trees in a new ‘friendship forest.’
  • Improved Walkability through Signage, Matt Privratsky, $23,250.To encourage neighborhood exploration by installing new, more engaging way-finding signs.
  • Johnny Baby’s Rondo Park, Johnny Baby’s, $60,000. To transform an underutilized parking lot into a relaxing, green gathering space for Rondo residents, bikers and Green Line riders.
  • Little Africa Cultural Corridor, African Economic Development Solutions, $60,000. To create a shared vision, action plan and design standards for the Little Africa corridor.
  • Living Landmarks, Minnesota Historical Society, $35,723. To offer a series of new, community-led walking tours highlighting the unique strengths and qualities of Green Line neighborhoods.
  • Mind if I Sit Here? Heather Cole, $8,000. To promote interaction between friends and strangers by inviting people to take part in brown-bag conversations at roving bistro tables throughout downtown St. Paul.
  • River Balcony Prototyping Festival, Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation, $100,000. To engage the community in a prototyping festival that helps develop a vibrant public life on St. Paul’s River Balcony.
  • Rock the Public Meeting, St Paul Smart Trips, $45,000. To bring fresh ideas to transportation planning along the Green Line through creative, youth-led Frogtown neighborhood engagement activities.
  • Rondo Commemorative Plaza and Garden, Rondo Ave, Inc., $75,000. To install technology designed to harvest and retell residents’ oral histories in this new public space.
  • St. Paul Better Block Wiki-Block, Team Better Block, $75,000. To develop, prototype and open-source templates for snap-together urban street furniture that can be produced by anyone to transform a street or neighborhood.

Organizers say these projects in the neighborhoods will:

  • Excite current residents and attract newcomers by prototyping snap-together urban street furniture that can help transform a neighborhood, installing a bike maintenance and repair station at a key intersection, strengthening the connection between downtown and the Mississippi River and transforming a parking lot into relaxing green space;
  • Expand economic opportunity and break down divides, by creating a shared vision and action plan for the Little Africa corridor, offering community-led walking tours of Green Line neighborhoods, and promoting public interaction through a traveling bistro that roves through downtown and invites friends and strangers to talk over a meal; 
  • Strengthen a culture of civic engagement by connecting a diverse group of residents in planting 500 trees along the Green Line, bringing fresh ideas to transportation planning through youth-led activities in Frogtown, and engaging the community in a protoyping festival to develop a vibrant public life on St. Paul’s River Balcony.

There’s one more year in the three-year, $1.5 million challenge, funded by the Knight Foundation and administered by the Saint Paul Foundation.

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