Volunteer Spotlight: Beth Evanson Makhoul

Today’s streets.mn volunteer spotlight shines on none other than the illustrious Beth Evanson Makhoul, whose tireless efforts as the Events Committee co-chair help to get us meeting one another off the comments section and at face-to-face social events (remember those?). Beth’s journey to streets.mn began while she pursued her graduate degree in Architecture at the University of Minnesota. There, she also completed the Metropolitan Design Certificate, which allowed her to take classes alongside, and enter urbanism-related discussions with, urban planning students. An internship with Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) with the City of Minneapolis further stimulated her interest in how cities function as a whole in addition to the buildings within them. She became both an avid reader of the streets.mn blog as well as a listener of its associated podcast (hosted by Bill Lindeke). In 2017, she accepted a request to chair the Events Committee and has been bringing you, the readers of streets.mn, happy hours, picnics and winter parties ever since.

One of the things Beth loves about the streets.mn community is the wonderful cross-section of people, “from academics to armchair philosophers,” as she puts it. Streets.mn is always looking to expand the diversity of its contributors and readers, and the work of the Events Committee is no exception to that. “The more representative of Minnesota as a whole streets.mn can be, the better,” she adds. As a native of Greater Minnesota, she is particularly interested in how voices from outside the Twin Cities can be brought in. One of her favorite streets.mn events that she helped to organize was a trash pickup on the Midtown Greenway in the spring of 2019. She was surprised at how much trash they were able to haul out, and the group was cheery with a sense of community and stewardship. Trail users often stopped to ask who they were. “I don’t know, maybe we got a few more readers that day?” Beth told me with a smile.

Photo: Beth Evanson Makhoul

Beth’s volunteer work is not limited to streets.mn. She is very involved with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and is active with the Minnesota Design Team. MDT’s forays into small, Greater Minnesota communities send designers to engage and work alongside local residents to “put together a community vision, basically overnight.” Outside of work, when she’s not contributing her time and skills to streets.mn and AIA, Beth prefers to be as active as possible – camping, hiking, biking, and exploring.

So, next time you see Beth, whether at a Zoom happy hour or (hopefully, in the not-too distant future) outdoor picnic, thank her for her behind-the-scenes work – and don’t forget to ask her about her big ideas for streets.mn events (like a cross-country train trip)!

About Katie Emory

Katie Emory is a Master's candidate in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Minnesota. She is a strong believer in the healing powers of better transportation infrastructure and policy for our minds, bodies and planet. Outside of school and work you might find her doing yoga, embroidery, or spending time with her cat, Mika.