Sidewalk Plant Lab raises awareness and appreciation of the plants that thrive in human-dominated places, while empowering passersby to become scientists.
Our goal at the Sidewalk Plant Lab is for people to see plants, know plants, and talk about plants. We use urban plants as an entryway to science. We cure plant blindness.
We’re a pop-up booth and environmental education program based in Minneapolis, MN that travels to community events, public spaces, parking lots, and roadsides. We offer multiple ways for people to engage, and we’re always looking for new ways to meet people and expand our work.
At the Sidewalk Plant Lab, passersby become botanists (plant scientists.) They explore to find a yet-undiscovered plant in the surrounding area – then, using the tools and guides at the Lab itself, they identify it, name it, and give it an original label. Everyone else that passes will see their discovery, and the species name will be added to the list for that location and shared with researchers around the country. The new botanists can choose to hang out further (exploring specimens under the microscope, leafing through field guides, checking out the live plant collection, or watching a demonstration of a plant’s amazing powers), or move on, knowing they’ve left their mark in the field of urban botany. When the day ends, our little patch of the city, suburb, or village will be alive with colorful nametags – the dozens of urban plants no longer so easily missed.
Nature is not “other.” The wild is all around us.
Thank you to the Seward Neighborhood Group for generously supporting the Sidewalk Plant Lab!