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Exploring the Upper River: LifeSource

Article by Kathleen Boe, Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership

Exploring the Upper River

A look at hidden gems along the Minneapolis Riverfront

LifeSource is an organization with a special mission and a special place in the hearts and minds of many people.

The organization manages organ, eye and tissue donation across the Upper Midwest, serving Minnesota, the Dakotas and areas of western Wisconsin. They work with hospitals and with the community to support the families of donors and encourage donor registration.

LifeSource also occupies a pretty special place along the Mississippi River in North Minneapolis. It’s at the end of the road, for now, along the west side of the river – driving along West River Road, the parkway and the bike trail come to an end right outside.

The organization moved here from St. Paul and broke ground on a sparkling new campus along the river in 2013. They were very taken by the view, and the sense of calm, and how that tied into the mission of helping both families who have lost loved ones and those who have benefited from organ donation.

The interior was designed with the families’ experience in mind. But on the outside, they took this to another level. The campus includes a memorial garden, which contains a wall remembering those who donated organs, eyes or tissue, as well as garden benches which serve to help memorialize donors as well.

And here’s where the site comes into play, because I’m really struck by the river in that area. It’s a wonderful view of the river because you can see south to the Broadway Avenue Bridge and the Plymouth Avenue Bridge and downtown. We often think of making connections with the river from downtown, but there’s a sense of magnificence when you see the river from this area. You get a bigger impression of the river’s role in the city.

Orvin “Ole” Olson ParkThe LifeSource Healing Garden offers people a chance to take a pause and take in what this river is. It’s wide, it’s powerful, and it’s a view of what the river should be: banked by parkland on both sides. Orvin “Ole” Olson Park sits between LifeSource and the river, ensuring that a clear view will be enjoyed by all for years to come.

Broadway Pizza, of course, is right nearby. But with further exploring, take another drive down Broadway to visit Breaking Bread Café or pick up a cookie at Cookie Cart. These are both locations that not only serve great food, but serve as job creation and job training centers, helping young people get the skills they need to be successful in the work force.

Kathleen Boe is Executive Director of the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership. She can be reached at, or through

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