Volunteer Spotlight: Friends of Midway Peace

We sat down with Jenny Keyser to learn more about the volunteers supporting one of our newest parks.

How did you get started with the park and what do you do to support it?

I’ve followed the development of Midway Peace Park since 2014 when there was the first whisper that a much-needed urban park would be created along the Green Line. It took years of effort by many partners to acquire the land, gather funding, and design a welcoming green space led by the local community, residents of Skyline Tower, and students at Gordon Parks High School. When the park officially opened on a blazing hot day in June 2021, it was like a dream come true. Rarely, in my experience, has a cooperative, community-led endeavor over so many years held together its values and reached its goal. Now retired, I have recently joined the Friend of Midway Peace Park. 

What has been most rewarding for you about supporting the park?

The Friends of Midway Peace Park is made up of dedicated park allies, community organizers, health and wellness advocates, youth leaders, high school faculty, and district council members. It’s a group that is focused, action oriented, and committed to community-building. I have found it to be a great place to learn and to make a difference. 

This is a brand-new park! What impact on the community have you noticed?

Midway Peace Park is a welcoming space for everyone. Last month, on October 8, Union Park District Council in cooperation with Skyline Tower held a Fall Fun Day that brought together neighbors of all ages for art activities, games, and conversation over cups of tea and delicious samosas. It was the first program event since last year’s grand opening. As the park becomes better known, we hope other groups will consider programming in this vibrant Midway area. 

What are upcoming projects the community can support?

A current project is planting more trees in the park, completing the park’s vision for a green community space filled with shade trees. At the moment, more than half of the new trees planted during construction have not survived due to the extreme drought. We are fundraising to replace at least 36 trees and to grow trees that will one day create a green canopy of trees for this urban park. 

A fund-raising campaign will be announced soon, and we welcome volunteers interested in promoting that opportunity. Next spring, we look forward to inviting volunteers to help with tree-planting, watering trees, and celebrating the greening of the park! 

What are your other favorite parks in St Paul and why?

Oh, I love all the parks in the Union Park District Council area! My favorite is Aldine. It was the go-to park when my children were little and is now my grandchildren’s favorite spot when they are visiting. There’s a tall hackberry tree near the horseshoe pits that our family donated many years ago that we love. 

Inspired? Volunteers are always welcome to help keep Midway Peace Park clear of litter and maintain it as an inviting place for everyone in the community. Union Park District Council and Lexington-Hamline Community Council are two of the groups that host regular park clean-up events. Come out and join us; it is a fun way to meet neighbors and learn about the park!