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Down the Green Line: A Northern Spark preview, Part 1

Via a May 11 e-newsletter from Northern

It’s the time of year when the sky stays bright a little later each night, reminding us of the summer season ahead. For Northern Spark staff and artists, it’s a time of projection tests, rehearsals, outreach and chocolate restoratives.  

As you begin to consider your journey on the night of June 10th, here’s a linear preview of what’s to be found down the line at Northern Spark.

The Commons
Let’s begin at The Commons, the western-most edge of the festival and downtown Minneapolis’s new green space. At 8:30 pm, Mayor Hodges talks with MINN_LAB artists about ORBACLES, this year’s multi-sensory Creative City Challenge winner. Listen and wander among the lights, sounds and smells of speculative infrastructure for the futures of bird populations in a climate-changed Minnesota.

After the Opening Ceremony, stick around to play in a carnival of climate games; visit the 3rd iteration of the Night Library to outwit overlord robots; watch an interactive superhero action flick from a carbon neutral traffic jam; interact with underground tree networks; marvel at a pearlescent sculpture; paint a mural about water protectors; and take a string survey to draw your opinions on climate change in correlation with others.

We’ve just begun, but maybe you already find yourself with a desire for connection and play. Find the station for Collective Action! - Northern Spark’s festival-wide game of acting together to solve climate change. Make yourself a unique avatar on your phone; wait until you’re called up to the stage and go! Find a Collective Action! station in each festival zone (except East Bank).

And lastly, don’t forget to swing by the Fulton Beer Tent for a sip before heading on your way.  

West Bank
Next stop: West Bank.  Climb the stairs from the Cedar Ave exit and choose right or left. Right takes you to the Southern Theater, where you can hone your debate skills with a sidewalk climate denier; or sit for a spell as 3600 seconds of multimedia movement are performed eight times over the course of the night, prompting the consideration of the vast effects of climate change in relationship to the minutiae of everyday life.

Choose left and travel down Cedar Ave to find pockets of interactive installations throughout the neighborhood. In the plaza in front of May Day Books, find a game arena to play a series of activities linking drought, traditional food ways and feminism. Then cross the street, remove your shoes, walk the carpet and visit a dome of light, sound, and video that challenges progressive discourses on climate change.

Wander down to the Cedar Community Plaza, where--if you arrive by 8:59 pm-- you’ll hear the call to prayer, the traditional end the day of fasting during Ramadan. Take a seat at an interfaith Iftar and storytelling circle to share about your environmental ancestry. Stop off at the Northern Spark Info Tent to grab a recycled water bottle to fill at a Tap Mpls station and continue across the street to find a market of gifted experiences and a ritual / installation that calls us to reflect on the urgency of environmental genocide through the voices of immigrants and people of color.  

Continue to walk and wander all the way to Currie Park to witness the intergenerational building and unbuilding of an aqal, the traditional Somali nomadic home. Weave your way back to the small park behind the Cedar Community Plaza and find a garden, tended by neighbors, growing greenery to blur the borders. Stay for awhile and drink tea with a gathering of Somali elders sharing stories of an ancient nomadic life.

East Bank
Over the mighty Mississippi, near East Bank station, sits the Weisman Art Museum, host to six projects aglow on the grass. Travel a tunnel timeline of rising temperatures constructed by U of M students in the Making Sense of Climate Change class; add your own image to a magic lantern carousel; re-visit the Backyard Phenology trailer that first appeared at Northern Spark 2016 to hear everyone’s stories; weave waste into an epic trash tapestry; and pause under the entrance to WAM to crowdsource some electronic sonatas that chronicle the states of our planet’s evolution from geological to technological.  

Or, if nocturnal birds of prey are more your thing, time your visit to occur in the 11 pm hour to join the meet and greet with owls from the U’s Raptor Center.

Little Africa
Get back on the train and take a load off for a while, traveling down the line into Saint Paul. Exit at Snelling Station and walk 1 block north into Little Africa where Sherburne Ave becomes an outdoor cinema, festive eatery and interactive installation hub. Check out wireless headphones and settle in to watch films about economy, ecology, and environmental justice at the inaugural Little Africa Film Fest. Express your commitment to extricating yourself from petrochemical culture; watch sculptures and paintings animate global warming; join others in a circle where water brings connection, healing and creativity; and take a personal journey towards a tree sapling chosen specifically for you.

Perhaps all this leaves you a little hungry? Fuel up! We’re only half-way through the night. Little Africa’s staple eateries Fasika Ethiopian and Ghebre’s Restaurant will be open all night for necessary nourishment along with neighborhood-related food trucks and tents.

Stay tuned for Journey Down the Green Line Part 2 in the next newsletter. Or, don’t wait for us. Plan your night by reading about all festival projects on our Art and Events page.

We’re Hiring!

We are looking for several individuals to join our Northern Spark 2017 Production team as Production Assistants! Production Assistants work with the Production Coordinator and Producer to support all aspects of outdoor festival production. Read more on our website here, and apply by sending a resume and cover letter to

Do you have a knack for nighttime photography? We are looking for professional photographers and videographers to join our documentation team to capture images of Northern Spark all night long. Must be able to work in very low-light environments. Read more on our website about the photography or videography calls, and apply by sending an email to with an email explaining your interest and a link to your portfolio.

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