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Sustainability Efforts to be Highlighted on MCTC Plaza Tour

Posted on: August 13th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

IMG_1925-smAnyone who visited the Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) outdoor plaza more than three years ago might not recognize it today.

Following three years of extensive development and redesign aimed at upgrading facilities, mitigating stormwater runoff, beautifying the campus and connecting the College aesthetically to its Loring Park, Walker Art Center and Downtown Minneapolis neighbors, the MCTC plaza reopened in 2013 as a lush, inviting canvas of natural plants, grasses and flowers where once acres of concrete sprawled.

The redesign won accolades from the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, which has awarded Greening Awards to the college for the redesign and its sustainable rain gardens in 2012, 2013 and 2014. (Vote now for this year’s Greening Awards!)

“This redesign not only allowed for the completion of deferred maintenance on campus, it also helped us manage stormwater runoff and brought Loring Park up into campus,” said MCTC Director of Facilities Roger Broz. “The College is now gardening on a municipal level.”

In addition, the impeccable upkeep devoted to this lush landscape by MCTC Gardener and Grounskeeper Randy Rau caught the attention of local experts. Randy’s expertise was tapped by the Lynnhurst Garden Club for a tour of the native plants, and he led 16 active gardeners through the grounds this week, connecting the current flora with sustainability and aesthetic efforts behind the redesign.

Randy will repeat his tour of the MCTC outdoor plaza on Wednesday, Aug. 19 at noon. All MCTC students, faculty, staff and members of the community are invited to learn more about the plaza redesign, campus and city sustainability efforts and plants at the tour. Questions are welcome! The tour will be rescheduled in the case of inclement weather.

Randy Rau: Bringing a Green Thumb to Campus

Posted on: August 13th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Randy Rau, MCTC gardener and groundskeeperRandy Rau likes to get his hands dirty.

As the College’s official gardener and groundskeeper, Randy is the face behind MCTC’s lush, blooming outdoor plaza.

“I’m all self-taught,” he said. “I read a lot of books. I don’t have a degree in gardening—just a general interest and lots of work experience.” Before MCTC, Randy worked at Bachman’s floral headquarters in south Minneapolis, and before that at Gertens Greenhouses.

Continuing his hobby at home, Randy’s hard work won the attention of his like-minded peers in the local Lynnhurst Garden Club. Connecting the community to his work at the College, Randy led 16 gardeners on a tour of the recently remodeled outdoor plaza, its flora and rain gardens intended to mitigate stormwater runoff.

“There’s a big divide between how you garden at home and gardening on the level of this college,” said Randy. “Finding the right balance of upkeep and ensuring the diversity of plants winds up being trial and error.”

Gardening is not only Randy’s profession and hobby. It’s also his love.

“My wife and I met when we both worked at Bachmans,” he said. “So we definitely share that interest.”

Last fall, Randy’s expertise landed him a high-profile role: in honor of the College’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon military support initiative, Randy was asked to select and plant a tree in a prominent spot on the MCTC plaza. He planted a young red oak just above one of the rain gardens, and took part in the ceremony with honor. (See photos from the ceremony here.)

“As an Air Force and Navy reservist, I was proud to be recognized both as a veteran and a gardener,” he said. “Once as a Navy Reservist, I spent eight months in Kuwait. My wife took care of our garden at home while I was gone. I was never so glad to see green as I was when I came home.”

The impeccable upkeep Randy devotes to the College’s lush landscape caught the attention of some local experts. Randy’s expertise was tapped by the Lynnhurst Garden Club for a tour of the native plants, and he led 16 active gardeners through the grounds this summer, connecting the current flora with sustainability and aesthetic efforts behind the redesign.

Randy will repeat his tour of the MCTC outdoor plaza on Wednesday, Aug. 19 at noon. All MCTC students, faculty, staff and members of the community are invited to learn more about the plaza redesign, campus and city sustainability efforts and plants at the tour. The tour will be rescheduled in the case of inclement weather. Questions are welcome!

Changes to MCTC Dining and Catering Provider

Posted on: August 4th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Jag, Harmon Deli ownerLast week, Sodexo informed MCTC Director of Auxiliary Services Gary Westerland that it has chosen to exercise its option to end its contract with MCTC prior to start of fall term. Sodexo’s last day on campus will be Friday, August 7.

In response, MCTC has entered into a contractual agreement with Groceries & Deli on Harmon for fulfillment of the College’s dining and catering needs. Harmon deli services will begin operating at MCTC on Aug. 24, and this contract runs through June of 2017.

“This change will certainly mean a different experience for MCTC diners,” said Westerland. “However, we believe these changes will be for the better for MCTC students, faculty and staff by virtue of enabling us to utilize a truly local vendor.”

Harmon deli owner and operator Jag Arora graduated from MCTC in 2004, having received his associate degree in Computer Networking. He transferred to Metropolitan State University where he received his bachelor’s degree in business management. He opened his deli on 13th St. and Harmon Pl. in 2009, one block from the campus where he began his college career.

Harmon Deli, Minneapolis“I am excited to fulfill MCTC’s dining needs and serve students, employees and the community,” said Arora. “I came to the U.S. from India in high school and began my college career at MCTC. In many ways I represent the College’s typical student. I’m glad to be working in the same community where I started my career.”

The shift to a locally sourced service provider opens the doors for additional local vendor partnerships, said Westerland.

Construction Begins on Outdoor Art Installation

Posted on: July 28th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments
zigzag

Construction begins on the installation, July 28, 2015.

MCTC has begun construction of an artistic endeavor to further beautify the campus and visually connect the Loring Park community to Downtown Minneapolis.

The project, Zig Zag, is a collaboration between local architectural firm Aventur LLC and São Paulo-based Estudio Campana. Workforce development funding awarded to MCTC in 2012 included funds for art procurement, and following a search process during the spring of 2014 funds were awarded to the inter-continental collaboration.

The installment, an outdoor trellis structure standing 20’ wide and 44’ long, will create a grand, colorful entrance to the College’s campus and create a community space for social gathering. The canopy, stretching from the end of Harmon Pl. under the Helland skyway, will consist of a series of polyester webbed strands—similar to seat belts—criss-crossed over each other to create a zig-zag pattern over the walkway.

This project will be the first permanent, outdoor installation in the U.S. of the creative work of internationally known Brazilian artists Humberto and Fernando Campana. The Campana brothers’ work is exhibited around the world, including a display of their iconic chairs in the permanent design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the noted redesign and renaming of Café Campana at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, a retrospective exhibition of their work at the Vitra Museum of design in Germany and a temporary outdoor sculptural installation at the Victoria Albert Museum in London.

zigzag

A model of the Zig Zag installation demonstrates the pattern, colors and scale.

Funds from the 2012 workforce improvement project also created new classroom space at the College for several career and technical programs, as well as a complete sustainable redesign of the outdoor plaza. The College is proud to be a part of a dynamic, urban Minneapolis community.

MCTC Instructor Tapped for Pluto Insight in Interview

Posted on: July 22nd, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Parke Kunkle, MCTC“One of the problems with the field of astronomy is that you can’t just…experiment on something that’s light years away.”

MCTC Astronomy instructor and advisor to the University of Minnesota Bell Museum of Natural History Parke Kunkle spoke with WTIP North Shore Community Radio in this 20-minute interview about Pluto’s recent return to public attention in images from the New Horizons spacecraft, and why it’s important to science.

Read about Parke’s past forays into the news spotlight.