Tag Archives: Metro Blooms

Blue Thumb/Metro Blooms Merger: Frequently Asked Questions


BlueThumbMetro Blooms and Blue Thumb are Merging!

The following describes the current understanding of how the Blue Thumb program would be governed and would operate following a merger of the program with Metro Blooms.  The Rice Creek Watershed District and Metro Blooms are working toward achieving a final transfer agreement in late May.  Separately, a transition plan covering Blue Thumb governance, financial management, and communication, more detailed but not legally binding, will be finalized and carried out collaboratively by Blue Thumb partners and Metro Blooms.

What advantages does merging with a non-profit organization have for Blue Thumb?

The intention of the creators of Blue Thumb was for it to become a non-profit organization.  Non-profits are eligible for additional funding sources.  They are not bound to a single geographic area unless by design, and often excel at establishing partnerships and working with volunteers.  Given Blue Thumb’s close programmatic alignment with Metro Blooms, the steering committee is excited about the possibilities to strengthen and expand our work throughout the state.

Will I continue to have access to Blue Thumb materials and displays?

All Blue Thumb materials created prior to the transfer will become publicly available after the transfer, either upon request or to partners who have access to the ftp site, including display materials that would be available for check out with payment of a $20 maintenance fee.  Handling of materials created following the transfer would be determined by the new Blue Thumb governance.

 

I am interested in participating, but am unable to pay the 2015 membership dues in full.  What are my options and how will the new dues structure be evaluated moving forward?

We understand that 2015 budgets were approved before membership dues were officially rolled out, and will work with partners to determine a contribution for this year that meets your needs.  Raising money through dues, grant writing, and sponsorship will be an important part of creating a more sustainable program in the future.  We will convene a workshop group to discuss fundraising efforts including the 2015 dues structure and possible changes for 2016.

How might the roles and relationships with local government partners change?

Government agencies often pay dues to or contract with nonprofit and for‐profit businesses. The Blue Thumb partner agreement would legally transfer the Blue Thumb program and assign the Blue Thumb copyright to Metro Blooms in accordance with program governance and related terms designed to continue partner support and remain responsive to public goals into the future. The agreement likely will provide for a period in which Metro Blooms will operate the program by license before program ownership is transferred, while it and partners refine governance and operational structures to ensure these goals are achieved. Metro Blooms has a history of successful contract work with 10‐20
government agencies each year, including the Legislative‐Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources from 2009‐2011. If there are new benefits that you would like to see in 2016, please let us know!

How will we ensure financial accountability and transparency for partners?

The Blue Thumb budget would become the responsibility of the new board of directors following a merger of the program with Metro Blooms.

As a non-profit organization, the Metro Blooms board of directors has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the organization’s records and accounts are accurate. To meet this responsibility, monthly financial statements are presented to the board as well as quarterly statements where the approved budget is updated to more accurately reflect the actual versus projected revenue and expenses.  The quarterly statements would be shared with the Blue Thumb advisory committee and made available to all partners upon request.

The annual budget is approved at the December board meeting.  Blue Thumb partners would have the opportunity to comment on draft budget items paid for with membership dues through a process established by the advisory committee. Membership dues would only be spent on pre-approved activities as outlined in the annual budget.  An annual report detailing expenditures and achievements would be provided for partners as well.

How would Blue Thumb and the newly formed organization be governed?

Blue Thumb partners would have several opportunities to participate in governance of the organization including on the nominating committee to interview and select new members of the board of directors, as a board member through an application and interview process, or on an advisory committee with a
liaison to the board to promote communication between the two entities.

With all that partners have invested, does Metro Blooms have the institutional knowledge and capacity to maintain and improve the Blue Thumb program and the services it offers?

Dawn Pape has been hired as the Director of Marketing and Partner Engagement for Metro Blooms. As the Rice Creek Watershed District education and communication specialist, Dawn started Blue Thumb in 2006 and developed it with the help of many partners. She is working part‐time for Metro Blooms at
this time and her hours may increase as funds become available to support this new and exciting position.

Planting for Pollinators: How Raingardens Can Help

In a world without bees, your next plate of food would have considerably less
variety. By some estimates, one of every three bites of food we take depends onMonarch pollinators like bees. Pollinators are the small creatures—among them bees, butterflies and hummingbirds—that carry pollen from plant to plant as they forage, unknowingly performing an important step in the production of fruits and seeds.

In recent years, we have observed severe declines in various pollinator populations. Honey bees are a key example. According to the USDA, beekeepers lost an average of one-third of their colonies every winter from 2006 to 2011. In the last couple of decades, the monarch butterfly population has declined 90 percent in North America.

This is worrisome. Consider the following: more than 80 percent of plants depend on pollinators for survival. In this country alone, bees and other insect pollinators contribute more than $24 billion a year to the economy.

Why are pollinators disappearing? A leading cause is lost habitat. Quite simply, many pollinators no longer have the food and other resources they need to survive. They are also vulnerable to pesticides, in ways that are currently being studied.

While this problem exists globally, we can act on a personal level to help solve the problem. Our gardening practices can create urban habitats that attract and sustain pollinators. Choosing native plants is a step in the right direction: pollinators and plants that evolved in the same areas generally benefit one another. For example, milkweed attracts bees and butterflies. To reproduce, monarch butterflies actually need milkweed because it is the only plant their caterpillars eat. Practices on this scale can establish pollinators in our own backyards.

Which brings us to raingardens, one of our favorite topics. Metro Blooms teachesCertified Raingarden people how to plant raingardens as part of our mission to promote gardening, beautify the community, and help heal the environment. These shallow depressions, planted with native vegetation, allow stormwater to be cleaned naturally as it soaks into the ground, diverting polluted runoff from our waterways.

Creating raingardens that are also habitats for native pollinators is, quite simply, smart design. The raingardens help clean and preserve natural bodies of water and function as habitats for bees, butterflies, and other insects and small animals that pollinate. In turn, the pollinators, just by doing what they do, help the raingardens thrive so they can work efficiently to clean our water.

Learn more at one of our eco-friendly raingarden workshops. This year we will offer lots of information on designing raingardens for pollinators: http://metroblooms.org/workshops.php

 Aleli Balagtas is a freelance writer interested inIMG_1374.JPG (1) gardening ecologically.