News & Stories

With Black Storyteller’s Alliance, Loppet Hosts Northside Nature Event

In partnership with Black Storytellers Alliance and Melanin in Motion, The Loppet
Foundation hosted an afternoon of storytelling at the Trailhead community gathering
center in Theodore Wirth Park on March 3, 2024. Over 80 members of the community enjoyed food from Wha’ Jamaican, both traditional and contemporary nature stories, a panel where local
leaders shared stories of the park, and a workshop/open mic to share their own
personal stories.

Throughout the event, local mural artist Charles Caldwell painted in real time on canvas.
His emerging art revealed a circle of youth learning from a book read by elders, with
words from the page taking wing in the form of messenger birds livening the story and
carrying it forward. Catering to families, the intergenerational event also included a
breakout session that empowered youth to tell their stories through art and games.
Participants’ stories had energy, passion, and urgency. They illustrated how urban
nature has the power to heal and grow communities, to bring new life and inspire
change. But stories also highlighted barriers that make access to nature and green
space challenging for communities of color. Participants exhorted one another, Loppet,
MPRB, and park partners to work hand in hand to make Minneapolis parks safe spaces
where people from the many different cultures that call this city home feel welcomed
and find refuge, recreation, and renewal.

The event and its stories were a celebration of how nature, music, art, and culture
weave together the rich history that has made the North Minneapolis community strong
and resilient amid challenge and change. Theodore Wirth Park, its lakes, streams,
wetlands, bike paths, forested hills, picnic grounds, and informal gathering places
feature prominently in these stories.

The Trailhead is increasingly seen as a safe space used by many members of the
community and partner organizations. But stories illustrate that many other neighbors
don’t yet know what the Trailhead building is and whether it’s open to the public or
welcoming to people who may not ski or mountain bike. Those in attendance
encouraged one another to work together to plan future events that build bridges
between the Theodore Wirth Park and the community in new and creative ways.

Learn more about the Stories of Connection Project and how YOU can get involved here.