Trash along railroad tracks near Hiawatha Avenue and Lake Street

Revisiting Stepping Up MN: A Virtual Cleanup (April 2020)

Much has changed since initiating Stepping Up MN, a virtual cleanup launched at the end of April to mobilize eager volunteers for community betterment. COVID-19 had us cloistered and adhering pretty religiously to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines against viral transmission. Litter accumulated in the streets, with city workers reassigned or furloughed and community stewards recommitting themselves to other priorities. Something needed to be done. Several people took the valiant first step of going outside, mobilizing neighbors in some cases, and taking steps toward creating visible improvement in areas along, and near, commonly trafficked city streets.

Here, we commend and celebrate those efforts.


Certainly, since that last week in April, hundreds of volunteers have done much to clean up debris along Lake Street and across the Twin Cities. It took some time to find the right time to return to the virtual cleanup response to #SteppingUpMN, as many other voices and activism deserved the main stage. Minneapolis could not have recovered from the rubble in the streets without a groundswell of support for community. A global pandemic and an immediate response to racial injustice and unwarranted police behavior both have made us stronger, more resilient and better connected than ever.

About Christian Huelsman

Christian Huelsman leads the Minneapolis Alley Initiative for Neighborhood Stimulation, a personal creative hub promoting public alleys as venues for art and culture. He also leads Spring in Our Steps, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit committed to bringing a brighter future to the city’s public alleys and stairways, through cleanup, programming, and advocacy initiatives.