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Riverside Meadow named for Annie Young

CAM GORDON/ALLEYNEWS

Martha Anne “Annie” Young 1924-2018

By CAM GORDON

On Saturday, March 17, over 100 people gathered in Lower Riverside Park to celebrate the life of longtime Phillips resident and recently retired Minneapolis Park Commissioner, Annie Young, who passed away earlier this year on January 22. The celebration included a dedication and ribbon cutting to commemorate the renaming of Lower Riverside Park as Annie Young Meadow in her honor.

This was the same Park where Young gathered for years with a group of close-knit friends almost every Friday night to enjoy one of the gems she worked so hard to protect and to improve in her nearly 28 years as an at-large Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner.

As former Commissioner and close friend John Erwin said, “The loss of Annie is going to leave a void in our lives but renaming and dedicating this park will help.”

COURTESY OF THE YOUNG FAMILY

Young served the people of Minneapolis as an at-large park Commissioner from 1989 to 2017 and is the second longest serving commissioner in the Park system’s history. At the gathering, she was recognized for her leadership on the Park Board to limit pesticides use, restore natural grasslands, establish dog parks, bring solar panels to park buildings and promote youth employment.

Sharon Day, longtime friend and executive director of the Indigenous People’s Task Force, opened the gathering with a traditional indigenous prayer to the Four Directions. She talked of Young as “a great friend of the Indian people of Minneapolis,” whose love of the Mississippi River and nature revealed her spiritual side.

Recently elected Commission LaTrisha Vetaw spoke of Young’s work and activism with the Green Party. First elected as a Green in 1997, Young was the longest serving Green Party elected official in Minneapolis. She was involved in several national Green Party campaigns and ran for State Auditor with Green Party endorsement in 2005.

Young is also broadly known for her work supporting and creating the food cooperative movement in Minnesota and South Dakota, and as a community organizer. She worked for the Harrison Neighborhood Association (HNA) on environmental issues in the 1980s and again in the 2000s and played a key role in getting the Wirth Cooperative Grocery Store that opened last year, established.

Annie was one of the key Phillips Community and Little Earth leaders that worked to prevent a garbage transfer station being built in the early 1990s by HN County near Hiawatha Ave. and 28th St. From that successful struggle, she developed the vision that led to the creation of the Green Institute in 1993, one of the projects of which she was the most proud.

As evidenced in the stories shared about her, economic justice and environmental sustainability were at the core of Young’s life. Her political and professional work focused on the co-ops, the parks, environmental justice, campaigning and working for left, green leaning candidates and building the Green Party. It was also a life rich in friends and family. Family was central to her life, as it was at the gathering which was organized and led by her son Shawn Young and grandson Shawn Young Lerhoff.

“She was a creative woman who had vision and the ability to get things done,” said interim Park Superintendent Mary Merrill Anderson. “We are standing on the shoulders of giants and Annie was one of those giants.”

“We love you Annie,” her grandson Shawn added. “You live on in all of us.”

Cam Gordon is Mpls. City Councilmember of the 2nd Ward

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