2014: Member - Brian Downing

About me. Duluth has always been my home. The beautiful great lake, the balance between big city and small town, the easy access to outdoor activities, and the defined, reliable rotation of seasons keep me energized and inspired. Nature and the nearby unknowns draw me to the woods in my open time. Hiking, skiing, ice hockey, road and mountain bicycling, and Boundary Waters adventures are some common activities for me. I developed a travel itch a few years ago after a train ride to Oregon. Now I find myself constantly thinking about where to go next and what new experiences I can have.

About my service. Through a general interest in bicycling and the effect that people have on the environment by moving from place to place, I focused my undergrad studies on transportation issues and alternatives. Add a transportation planning internship, and it was natural for me to work on bicycling initiatives in Duluth as an Air Quality - Green Transportation member. My service time will be spent working on two main projects. Last autumn, Duluth was awarded Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community status by the League of American Bicyclists. Related to this, I will help Duluth establish a sustainable City Bicycle Committee which will guide efforts to take steps to create a more bicycle-friendly atmosphere and environment in Duluth. I will also work to expand the multi-use paved trail network in Duluth by joining the Lowell to Lakewalk Trail team in an effort to extend the Lakewalk up the hill and through business districts, educational institutions, and neighborhoods. This work will involve promoting the ability of non-motorized transportation and urban design to increase health, business, and community connectedness, as well as to decrease GHG emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Why I serve. Minnesota GreenCorps provides me with a unique opportunity to connect with community leaders who work on socially, economically, and environmentally responsible projects. This service allows me to make a meaningful impact on the resiliency of my hometown of Duluth and to affect change at a local, community level. Additionally, it will provide me with the connections, training, and experience to develop into an effective community leader myself and to pass those onto others and grow our network of educated, aware, responsible, and motivated local and global citizens.

My favorite place to visit in Minnesota. This will probably be a popular one, and it will be for a reason. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is the most magical place to visit for a northern Minnesota person like myself, and I imagine for many others. A week spent getting lost and finding myself in the North woods is all I need to rejuvenate, replenish, and energize my soul.