Month: June 2013

I’m excited about Rochester’s potential

AJ Montpetit, Blog Author
AJ Montpetit, Blog Author

I was greeted to Rochester upon arrival with a bit of a head start than most. My wife (girlfriend at the time) presented to me a 5-page, front and back, laminated guide to all things Rochester. It showed me where the closest coffee shop was, where the Library is found, what events are good to attend, and maps on how to get around. Her passion and love of this city was infectious, and now I find myself with that same passion and zeal for this town. I want to share it to every new resident, nurse, and student, as fervently as an evangelist for this fair city.

One of the key factors that has kept me here is not just what this mini-metropolis offers now, it’s the potential that it holds to be an even greater city. We find ourselves at a time where we are limited only by our imaginations, and the power to collaboratively build the future of this city.

I look at this community as one that is like none found anywhere else, and is truly a gem to the state, and the country. For those of my generation, and younger, change is a normal part of life. We haven’t known a life of stability like those before us, and change, to us, brings something better and innovative. My wish is that these changes bring us together as a community, and we work together to build something great for ourselves, our children, and their children. I am excited to be a part of the change that is happening, and proud to call Rochester home.  

What excites you about DMC and the future of Rochester? Join the conversation by adding your comments below.

AJ Montpetit is a social media consultant.

The dirty words of urban design


Adam Ferrari, Blog Author
Adam Ferrari, Blog Author

Previously in this blog I described the inherent qualities of urbanity.  So if you are trying to reinforce or perhaps create from scratch that essence of being urban–what typifies the essence of a livable city–where should you begin? 

I believe that to truly begin to embrace urban is to accept two rudimentary principles.  Two vilified, egregious, “dirty” words of urban design.  The first, simply stated, is that to achieve a rich urban fabric requires density. Now before you close this webpage or tear up this paper in disgust because I mentioned that dastardly “d” word, stop and think for a second about how population density leads to many other attributes of urban life that are desired. Why do you think a farmer’s market works?  Furthermore, density can apply to much more than population (e.g. street widths, tree spacing, etc.) and I would argue that embracing the concept of density can help design the majority of component parts of the city system and produce results that far surpass expectations.

The second principle, and one that may be more difficult to explain, is diversity. A vague and catchall term, diversity ensures that everyone is represented, that one demographic is neither isolated nor compartmentalized, and that everyone has choice. Diversification and integration in all forms serve to achieve the larger goals of urban vitality. What I am not intending is to simply address ethnic diversity, which often is the first thing to come to mind. While that is a part of population diversity, it is far too specific.  Rather it means having a Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale concert on the same night as the Americana Showcase. Different strokes, for different folks.

Ultimately, our pursuit of the great city experience that exists in the pages of the Rochester Downtown Master Plan as well as the illustrations found on countless webpages and blogs is not difficult to achieve. What it takes is a fierce determination; a vigilant battle against the outdated planning doctrine of the latter 20th Century and promotion of the settlement style growth patterns that are inherent in cultures all across the globe. It is about making a public place out of empty space. It is about overcoming fear of the word density because it evokes images of slums and high-rises and understanding the word diversity without picturing scary people lurking in the shadows.

We all can do a better job of embracing urban, and if DMC desires to increase the vitality and livability of downtown Rochester, then get ready to drop a whole lot more “d” words in public.

What is it about density that is so scary?  Why does diversity connote societal ills? Join the conversation by commenting below.

Adam Ferrari is an architect and the Director of the non-profit Design Rochester. Podcasts of the radio show “Design with a Capital D” can be found on

We are Rochester

Laura Elwood, Blog Author
Laura Elwood, Blog Author

It’s Friday Night. You have three options: going out to eat, see a movie, or grab a drink. Are you bored of your options? Do you feel like you’ve done everything there is to do here? When someone asks you where you’re from, do you find yourself sheepishly replying, “Rochester”?

You’re not alone! I grew up in Rochester. As I got older, I began to feel that as I aged, Rochester stayed static; nothing ever seemed to change. This town seemed built only for families and professional adults. When I left Rochester for college, I swore to myself that I’d never come back. Rochester was not the place for me. It was difficult to make friends when I came back and in order to have fun I had to look hard to find something I haven’t done before. I felt that my future here was bleak.

With Destination Medical Center developing I see Rochester’s future full of bright and exciting opportunities. As a young adult,   it’s my social responsibility to address the issues Rochester faces and to help create the identity of this city outside of the shadow of Mayo.  It’s our time to customize this city the way we want. It’s our time to speak up about the limitations of Rochester not with judgment, but with enthusiasm about what we can change. I think of DMC as an urban revolution.  DMC will allow Rochester to create a place where people stay because of the arts, diversity and passion inside the city limits and within the surrounding communities. I want high school seniors and college graduates to see Rochester as a great opportunity for their future as adults, not as a backup plan. This is the most exciting time to be living in this city.

My generation gets excited about locally owned businesses, cafes, thriving arts not strictly for entertainment but for educational purpose as well. We share a passion of expressing ourselves by engaging more within the community. We are the future. Think big, and bring your ideas to the table. The city is ready, and this is our time to be heard, create and cultivate our talents. If you’re not satisfied with your options here, then take action and create change.

This is the time to shape Rochester’s future. Start your legacy now. We are Rochester.

Laura Elwood is the Marketing and Community Outreach Coordinator for R&S Transport in Rochester. She is also a DMC Ambassador.

What are some of the things you would like to see happen in Rochester to make it more appealing to younger people? Share your thoughts through the comments below.

Mayo Clinic brings new innovations utilizing apps

ipadatMayoAs one of the world’s most respected medical research and treatment centers, Mayo Clinic is known for its ongoing innovations in health care. And now there’s another breakthrough: Using custom apps for physicians and patients on iPhone, iPad, and iPad mini, Mayo is transforming the capabilities of individualized patient care.

Since the late 19th century, Mayo Clinic has been at the forefront of medical technology. “We had the development of the heart-lung machine, and the first total hip replacement,” says Dr. John H. Noseworthy, President and CEO. “Mayo Clinic is really a model of what health care could be.”

The clinic’s adoption of iPhone, iPad, and custom in-house apps reflects the Mayo Clinic’s commitment to the latest advances.

Read the Mayo Clinic App profile and watch the related video on the Apple website.

What apps or other innovations do you utilize for your health care information? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

DMC: What’s next?

Lisa Clarke, Blog Author
Lisa Clarke, Blog Author

The 2013 Legislative Session wrapped up just a few weeks ago and the DMC team is already getting started!  We applaud the passage of the Destination Medical Center legislation and thank the bill authors, legislative leaders, Gov. Mark Dayton, and our city, county and community partners for their support for this major economic development initiative. Passage of the legislation is truly an historic moment for Mayo Clinic, the city, county and for the entire state of Minnesota.

The legislation passed as part of the state’s tax bill. It will help fund the public infrastructure required to keep pace with an estimated $5.6 billion private investment by Mayo Clinic and other private entities over the next 20 years aimed at securing Rochester’s and Minnesota’s position as a global medical destination.

So what’s next? There’s a lot on deck for the next three months. Mayo Clinic, State, City and County leadership will continue to work together to create the governance structure for DMC according to the terms of the legislation. This is expected to be completed within the next 60-90 days.

Once the governance structure is in place, DMC will engage the community in an information sharing and input process for consideration as the DMC initiative evolves. There will be many ways people will be able to participate. Watch for information on upcoming events and opportunities on this blog and through our DMC social media channels.

Thanks to all of you for your continued enthusiasm for DMC! Please continue to send us your ideas, questions and comments.

Lisa Clarke is the Mayo Clinic Administrator for the Destination Medical Center project.

What it means to be urban

“Cities resemble lovers, offering allure, annoyance, and late-night availability.” -Emilie Buchwald

Adam Ferrari, Blog Author
Adam Ferrari, Blog Author

I am a self-described urbanist.

I grew up in a city, I have lived near city centers, and I have relished in the urban renaissance being experienced across the United States. Here in Rochester I have been a passionate advocate for grassroots long-range planning in its urban neighborhoods surrounding downtown. And I see latent potential for an extremely livable city actualized by Destination Medical Center.

But before the pendulum swings back in the opposite direction, one must remember that other urban byproducts accompany the positive attributes. Increased noise, increased hardscapes, decreased efficiency, decreased personal space are to be expected. You must not expect to enjoy the good parts of urban life without these other realities. The fact is urban life is not for everyone.

That being said, higher percentages of people are seeking out urban living. The globalization of information, business, and economies has put intense pressure on cities to attract people to live in them. Density is not a given, and lack of diversity acts as a deterrent to attracting the creative class. It is precisely because you can choose to live anywhere that now cities are in fierce competition to attract the new workforce and tax base of the next generation. 

Therefore it is not just the ability to build a custom house in a convenient subdivision near a P.F. Chang’s, but a unique sense of place along with the amenities and enrichments of the urban environment that is required. And each of the communities that I visit and the neighborhoods that I work with has the same desires to enhance and preserve; to increase vibrancy and ensure sustainability. If that means learning to wait an extra 10 minutes to catch a bus to work as opposed to driving door to door, then we should be patient. If it means welcoming people of all ages and income levels into our neighborhoods, then we should introduce ourselves. If it means advocating for a mix of land uses over segregation of residential and commercial, then we can start writing letters to City Council.

And quite frankly Rochester has both. It has sleepy bedroom suburbs (55th Street NW) and a vibrant city center (1st Avenue SW). So if urban living is not something you crave, take a pass, and allow those who desire a dose of urbanity to situate themselves proximate to our downtown.

Adam Ferrari is an architect and the Director of the non-profit Design Rochester. Podcasts of the radio show “Design with a Capital D” can be found on