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A local photographer aspires to shoot all 81 neighborhoods in Minneapolis

Janelle Nivens is touring each of the 81 Minneapolis neighborhoods, photographing and blogging the sights along the way.

The inspiration for her mission came on a cold March morning. "I parked a mile away from my brunch destination, Maria's Café, and walked along Franklin Avenue, marveling at all I would have missed if I hadn't gotten out of my car and walked around," she states on her blog.

For example, when she happened by Ventura Village, which was unfamiliar to her, a quick Internet search turned up many more neighborhoods that she'd never heard of. As an enthusiastic urban hiker, "I decided that visiting each was a good goal," she says.  

At first she relied on friends to show her around. But soon other informal tour guides, who caught wind of her blog, Minneapolis81.com, via Twitter, Facebook, and other word-of-mouth means, volunteered to help out. Her calendar filled up fast.

In her tours so far, she's come across everything from a tree that's strewn with toys in Linden Hills to a shoe-filled chimney in Fulton. A McKinley-area park on the North Side impressed her, as did neighborhood's CSA Garden. However, she was struck by the area's lack of access to restaurants and grocery stores, which creates what she describes as a "food desert."

Occasionally she spots construction projects that she wonders about, or historical buildings, for which she tries to get the backstory. "Fact-finding is a fun part of it," she says.

She's also become acquainted with numerous local artists, small business owners, and many others who help make the neighborhoods thrive, she says.

Ultimately, through her blog, she hopes to introduce people to new neighborhoods. "I'd like to show how much it's opened my eyes to what they have to offer," she says, adding that it's also a good way to sharpen her photography skills.

Above all though, the project makes it so that "every night and weekend it's like a vacation in my own city," she says.

Source: Janelle Nivens, photographer, Minneapolis81.com 
Writer: Anna Pratt

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