Open Streets: West Broadway

When: Saturday, September 14

Where: West Broadway & Emerson in North Minneapolis, by Cookie Cart and Juxtaposition Arts

Weather: Sunny and a little overcast; mid-70s

Notable Details: Across the street from an awesome youth dance studio, we had a constant soundtrack and, often, live performances just fifty feet away. We had plant conversations with over 70 people in four hours, and created plant labels for more than 25 different plants. “You sure have opened my eyes to these plants all around us,” one woman said. “Can I write ‘notice nature’ on a sign?” one little girl asked. “How do you spell that, please?” Folks learned that dandelion and lamb’s quarters are edible; learned how to recognize lady’s thumb by its dark green leaf blotch. A dandelion was named “Howie” by a two year old boy. Another little girl insisted on her dad reading aloud every one of the signs at the end of the afternoon, so she could learn all of the plants’ names. In twenty feet of cracked sidewalk, we found more than fifteen species of plants.

Open Streets: University of Minnesota

When: Sunday, September 8th

Where: Open Streets University of Minnesota (UMN East Bank campus, across the street from the McNamara Alumni Center)

Weather: Cold (low 60s) with gray skies and a steady drizzling rain

Notable Details: We were set up by a slew of native plants hanging over a large raingarden. While rainy, we still had conversations with 32 people over three hours. A man learned the difference between edible purslane and toxic spurge. Many goldenrod flowers were re-named after the UMN mascot. People debated the merits of the scent of hyssop, which smells like anise, or black licorice. Several people declared they weren’t “good at science” or weren’t “into science” upon arriving at the Lab, and left 5 minutes later having made novel observations, detailed their findings, learned the name of a new plant, and shared that information with others. If that’s not science, what is?