Friday, February 13, 2015

Blue Thumb and Metro Blooms Merge into One Non-Profit

Metro Blooms and Blue Thumb - Planting For Clean Water ® are merging into one non-profit. 

After months of careful deliberation, Metro Blooms and Blue Thumb are becoming one nonprofit organization operating under the name of Blue Thumb—Planting for Clean Water®. 

“Together, our organizations are uniquely positioned to realize our shared vision for clean water supported by beautiful and ecologically functional landscapes,” says Jessica Bromelkamp, Education, Outreach, and Communication Coordinator of the Rice Creek Watershed District.

A Metro Blooms/Blue Thumb tour of a raingarden that captures runoff from an alley in Minneapolis.

As a unified non-profit, this merger is intended to expand resources and increase growth potential because it will no longer confine the organization to a specific geographic area serving its taxpayers. Blue Thumb —Planting for Clean Water® will continue to seek and facilitate opportunities for collaboration among partners with a focus on beautiful, ecologically functional landscapes.

Here’s a summary of the shared vision, the challenges to be faced and impacts that Blue Thumb hopes to make:

A Shared Vision: Clean water resources supported by beautiful and ecologically functional landscapes that minimize runoff in cities, towns and suburbs.

The Challenge: The EPA defines runoff as the number one threat to water quality in our lakes and streams; however the general public is not aware of how runoff from their property impacts our clean water and ways they can make a difference.

Intended Impacts:
  • Measurable reductions in runoff and improved ecological benefits with properties that are transformed.
  • Community engagement and behavior change to bridge information and action.
  • Changes in the landscaping norms among professionals and property owners.

After supporting many raingarden projects with Blue Thumb Partner,
Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, School Program
Consultant, Tracy Leavenworth installs one in her own yard!

Blue Thumb – Planting for Clean Water was founded in 2006 as a program of the Rice Creek Watershed District. Blue Thumb includes more than 70 partners - watershed districts, cities, landscape design and build contractors, native plant nurseries, and environmental nonprofits – working together to promote native plantings, raingardens and shoreline plantings. The partnership’s impact has been recognized by the Star Tribune, the National Geographic-sponsored “Blue Legacy Tour, and clean water advocates across the country. 

Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District has been involved with Blue Thumb since its inception. Watershed staff have served on its steering committee since 2006.

Metro Blooms was originally a program of the City of Minneapolis and in 1983 became an independent nonprofit organization. In the years that followed, it launched programs including garden evaluation and recognition, raingarden workshops, and neighborhood-wide installation programs. In 2008, it adopted the name “Metro Blooms” to reflect its focus on restoring the ecological function of the urban landscape and its expanding geographical reach.

The Joint Visioning Committee established a set of criteria outlined below to address partner feedback, meet the goals of the shared vision to strengthen the partnership, and expand its impact. A number of organizational alternatives were analyzed before coming to an agreement that a fully merged, unified nonprofit organization would be the best structure to address the following criteria:

Organizational Criteria:  
  • Supports our shared vision to provide a one-stop assistance center for property owners in cities, towns and suburbs seeking information and assistance.
  • Supports the public-education aspect of our shared mission: workshops for the public and for professionals, online resources, events, programs, etc.
  • Supports a robust partnership network, with promotional opportunities for private-sector partners, public-sector agencies and nonprofit partners.
  • Clarifies and increases the value proposition and benefits for partners.
  • Supports opportunities for partners to collaborate and influence program content and design.
  • Expands our capacity to support communities, partners and individuals.
  • Provides financial transparency and accountability for all dollars raised and spent, and creates a sustainable financial/business model.
  • Maximizes effective and efficient use of our resources (financial and staff).
  • Maximizes our organizations’ (collective) positive reputations with clarity and timeliness.
  • Supports the success of all organizations (including partners’); is a “win-win” solution.

One of Metro Blooms many Neighborhood of Raingarden projects.
Achieving the shared vision for a unified nonprofit that will strengthen the collaboration and expand the Blue Thumb partnership will take the involvement of the many organizations that make up the Blue Thumb partnership. The next step is to define a governance structure that will help to meet the Organizational Criteria outlined above. Over the next year there will be many opportunities for partners to become involved in helping to shape a new Blue Thumb – Planting for Clean Water.
Here’s a link to partner benefits:

To learn more about Blue Thumb go to Contact: Becky Rice
(651) 865-0248,

Jessica Bromelkamp
(763) 398-3073,


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