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Carolyn Manthei-Lund lugging bricks on a pathway under construction with several other workers in the background.

Civil service staff member Carolyn Manthei-Lund lugged bricks and student Shane Peterson spread sand to create the pathway at the end of 5th Street South.

Down and dirty for a beautiful U

Civil service staff helped to build a West Bank path and garden

By Peg Wolff

Brief, May 17, 2006

"Get down and dirty"--that was the motto of some Twin Cities campus civil service staff members who came to work on Beautiful U Day April 20, shoveling stone and sand, placing walkway paving stones, raking leaves, weeding a garden, and relocating plants.

The Civil Service Committee (CSC) partnered with the Twin Cities campus Office of University Relations and the West Bank Community Development Corporation (CDC) in Minneapolis to write a successful Beautiful U Day grant proposal that revitalized a garden and paved a walkway in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

All winter and early spring, CSC made preparations for Beautiful U Day. Then April 20 arrived. Civil service staff members worked hard along with students and West Bank neighbors through intermittent rain for nine hours.

Lori Nicol and Cathy Marquardt in work jackets
Lori Nicol and Cathy Marquardt took a breather.

"It was a wonderful experience digging into the earth, clearing, planting, and socializing with members of the community," says Lori Nicol, CSC member and a principal accountant in the Department of Plant Biology. "It was great when community members walked through and thanked us for the work we were doing. Just to see the smiles on their faces and the look of appreciation was worth the slight discomfort of the rain or tangle of weeds. To me, it was part of what Beautiful U Day should be about--clean up an area and make it more beautiful, or in this case, help nature show its beauty. A thoroughly enjoyable experience all around."

In the end, a dirt walkway was transformed and a garden redesigned. It was a lot of fun, a great collaboration, and the first of many outreach projects initiated by the civil service staff.

Peg Wolff is a principal public relations representative at University Relations, Twin Cities campus, and vice chair of the Civil Service Committee.