Leopold Benches are named for Aldo Leopold, an internationally recognized figure in wildlife conservation and pioneering author and philosopher on environmental ethics and land stewardship. Leopold benches are beneficial for viewing wildlife. The design of the bench allows for a person to sit backward on the bench, providing a rest for elbows while looking through binoculars. This makes them great for bird watching!
Longfellow and Seward community members, with help from organizers at Better Futures, built 10 Leopold benches using reclaimed and recycled wood. Better Futures is non-profit located in Longfellow that is dedicated to reintegrating high-risk adults, primarily African American men, into society by providing a platform to help them succeed. The agency works with men with histories of incarceration, substance abuse, chronic unemployment, and homelessness —men who have a high risk of being repeat offenders.
Once the 10 benches were built, Longfellow and Seward Community members spent an afternoon painting them at Black Table Arts Co-op. Each volunteer brought their own creativity to the benches by painting them with colors, designs and patterns that reflected their story. The benches were then lacquered to make them weatherproof. You can find the benches throughout South Minneapolis in community gardens and outdoor spaces.
Black Table Arts is a community driven arts cooperative located in Minneapolis, Minnesota gathering black communities through the arts toward better black futures. Complete with a bookstore, private meeting rooms, shared workspace and a performance space (BTA) makes bold the connection between art and grassroots organizing by providing programs that invite local artists to see themselves as change makers and organizers of their collective liberation.
As a final piece of the project, LCC and Urban Bird Collective have organized a series of bird walks throughout our community. There will be one or two bird walks a month from April through June. All level of birdwatchers are welcome! Birdwatchers from Urban Bird Collective will help you to identify local bird species through their calls and appearances as well as inform you as to how to protect bird and other species in our environment. LCC will provide several pairs of binoculars to the first few people who show up to each bird walk, but if you have binoculars, you are encouraged to bring them. We will also have a few bird guide books to give out to participants.
Urban Bird Collective was founded in 2018 to support birdwatchers of all different skill levels in leading walks in our neighborhoods. They work to create safe and welcoming spaces for all communities to come out and explore birding and the outdoors. These communities include Black, Indigenous, People of Color and the LGBTQ communities and more. They are passionate about birdwatching and protection of the environment.
ABOUT THE GREEN PARTNERS GRANT
Hennepin County provides funding and support to organizations to actively educate, engage and motivate residents to become environmental stewards and make positive behavior changes.
Through the Green Partners grant program, Hennepin County supports organizations doing projects that help residents take action to prevent waste, separate organic waste and recycle, reduce household hazardous waste, combat climate change, care for trees, protect birds, bats, and pollinators, and improve air and water quality.