2016 OAKtoberfest Neighbor Award Winners

2016 OAKtoberfest Neighbor Award Winners

The OAKtoberfest Neighbor Awards will be presented along with the Mayor’s Urban Forestry Awards winners at OAKtoberfest 2016.

Green Initiative Award: Neighbor who spearheaded and developed green initiatives within their neighborhood, as a means to make Rochester a more environmentally sustainable place to live.
Sam Hilt, Historic Homestead Addition Neighborhood Association
Nominated by Eileen Zirbel, Historic Homestead Addition Neighborhood Association

In addition to participating with his neighbors on their 7 pm dog walk throughout their neighborhood, Sam has been an active environmental steward in his neighborhood. He looks out for not only the trees but also ensures that native plants are incorporated into park projects. This is important because Native plants help to nurture monarch butterflies, predicted to be quasi-extinct over the next 20 years. He completed the Citizen Forester training in fall of 2010 in preparation to help his neighborhood plant the 25 trees they received in the fall 2010 Neighborhood Tree Grant.

“Sam is the Homestead Addition neighborhood resource person for questions regarding trees, complete with a willingness to trim trees,” said his neighbor Eileen Zirbel. “He has placed several bluebird houses in the park area surrounding the neighborhood. He is knowledgeable about many flora and fauna topics and now maintains 2 bee hives in the neighborhood providing improved pollination (and honey). When the neighborhood garden was planted, Sam made sure several native plants were included, grasses that will provide seeds for birds and milkweed that will provide a
habitat for monarch caterpillars.”


Vibrant Neighbor Award: Given to a neighbor who has spearheaded and developed artistic venues, activities, and events within the neighborhood.
Greg Wimmer, Creative Crosswalks and RColorful Corners Street Murals
Nominated by René Lafflam, RNeighbors

Greg has his mural masterpieces all over Rochester, on walls, storefronts, billboards, intersections, and most recently crosswalks. Just talk to him for five minutes and you’ll realize just how much he’s helped to infuse art into what were some very drab spaces.

Back in 2007, his mural expertise was integral in helping RNeighbors introduce a pavement painting program called RColorful Corners with our initial intersection mural in the Slatterly Park neighborhood. The goal of this effort was to empower Rochester neighborhood residents to work together to create colorful projects, such as street murals, transforming public space into neighborhood assets. It’s not an easy task to take an image and not only transfer it to the giant canvas of a street but also make it easy enough for unskilled volunteers to paint in the lines. Since then he has designed (with input from neighbors) and helped mix gallons of street paint for four additional street murals, three of which continue to be freshened up and repainted by teams of neighbors annually.

In September Greg once again helped us with a pilot Creative Crosswalk project when over 100 volunteers came out to help us paint his striking series of crosswalks across First Avenue downtown. The goal of this project was to help bring art to a barren space and emphasize safe crosswalk space for the one of the most heavily used pedestrian areas in downtown Rochester. Thanks in part to his artistry we hope this is just the first of many Creative Crosswalks in Rochester neighborhoods.


Green Thumb Award: Given to a neighbor or group who has improved their neighborhood, yard, or local community park.
Doris Amundsen, Slatterly Park Neighborhood Association
Nominated by Cathy Clermont, Slatterly Park Neighborhood Association

Doris is a Master Gardener and caretaker of many gardens in the Slatterly Park neighborhood associations’ realm. Involved (past and presently) with many different gardening projects in our community including at Century and Riverside Schools, the Mayowood Mansion and participates in the Zumbro Valley Audubon, Green Hosta Society, the Slatterly Park NA, and Conservation MN. Doris is an avid promoter of boulevard gardens to add “curb appeal”. It has really blossomed and many streets in Slatterly Park can now be seen with similar gardens lining the streets.

Cathy Clermont, her neighbor said, “Doris has been living in Slatterly Park and making it a better place for more than 40 years, her yard is one of the most beautiful gardens in the city and it overflows into the neighboring city and park land. Single handedly she has maintained and organized the maintenance of perennial flower beds in an unmaintained city parcel near Mayo Run, the median outside the Riverside School, and most recently the new Sixth Street Bridge.

When she puts her mind to something, it happens and our neighborhood is a better place because of her energy.”

You can read more about her here “Doris-amundsen-one-of-rochesters-conservation-stars” and here Nature Nut: There are ways to cut down on lawn-mowing

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