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The Grass Roots of Collaboration

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

By Mike Brooks

Lake Links board member Greg Bartz gathered neighbors as plans were being developed for South Shore in 2018.

Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead famously reminded us of the innate, often underestimated power each of us has to make a difference when she said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Local residents worked together to create a "Neighborway" connector trail in Mahtomedi in 2016.

A recent email to the Lake Links Association from Ramsey County reminded us of the invaluable role of advocacy and collaboration between citizens and government. It also made us feel pretty good. It affirms the continuing need for vital partnerships between citizens and government, and between units of government, if we are to execute our planning and expressed policies to advance the common good:

“The partnership and collaboration between Ramsey County and the Lake Links Association was vital to the South Shore Boulevard project moving forward. The association’s ability to secure funding for the project was a key piece to the puzzle that allowed the County to construct a major connection in the trail network. Ramsey County places a high value on our “All Abilities Transportation Network” policy, which prioritizes pedestrian and bicycle connectivity throughout the County, and the association's efforts to secure $2.6 million from the State Legislature for the South Shore Boulevard project fit perfectly into the County’s long-range goals.

The partnership with a grass roots, private, non-profit organization not only helped secure funding for the project, but the engagement the association has with area residents made the project development process and design analysis extremely thorough. The level of public engagement we experienced with this project far eclipsed engagement and interest we see on other projects. Credit for this level of public involvement in the project development process can be credited to the efforts of the Lake Links Association.

Ramsey County continues to work on pedestrian and bicycle connection throughout the County, and the efforts of the Lake Links Association and other similar organizations go a long way to help create a connected community for everyone to enjoy.”

And thank you, Ramsey County, for facilitating good communication between all stakeholders throughout the transformation of South Shore Boulevard into a safe corridor for all users of the transportation system. Your belief that trails around the lake and in our region are critical infrastructure has us paraphrasing Margaret Mead: “Never doubt a unit of government committed to change.”

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