When LaTrisha Vetaw lived in South Minneapolis, she found that the Mississippi River was always just a short walk away. Having spent most of her life in North Minneapolis, however, she knows that residents there haven’t been able to enjoy that same privilege. She wants to change that.
“I want to be involved in reshaping the northside riverfront,” Vetaw says. “Quality of life is different when people have access to water.”
As a Minneapolis City Council member and newly appointed MWMO commissioner, one of her top priorities is to provide that access to everyone — especially those who traditionally haven’t had it.
On the council, Vetaw represents the city’s fourth ward, which was historically cut off from the riverfront by industrial development and the construction of I-94. In the Upper Harbor Terminal (UHT) redevelopment project, she sees a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore some of that access to North Minneapolis residents. Vetaw was excited to learn that MWMO staff have been working to create enhanced public green space and green stormwater infrastructure at UHT.
During her time as a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioner (from 2018-2022), Vetaw worked to provide access in other ways, including securing funding for the trail connection to the 26th Avenue North Overlook. That project also featured MWMO-funded habitat restoration and shoreline stabilization work.
“On the park board, I learned a lot about how important water is to our city,” she says. “I wanted to be a part of the MWMO to make sure those projects are continuously funded.”
Outside of her work on the city council, Vetaw serves as the director of health policy and advocacy at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center. Vetaw said she was interested to learn that the MWMO is funding a project there to install modular wetland systems and other green stormwater infrastructure. She says it was one of the projects that first put the MWMO on her radar.
As a new MWMO commissioner, Vetaw says her first order of business is to learn from the older commissioners so that she can help carry the torch from one generation to the next. But she also acknowledges that her role will be different in some ways. In particular, she hopes her time at the MWMO will help to bring communities of color into the conversation about access to water resources and habitat.
“People of color need to see someone who looks like them being a part of that work,” she said.
Vetaw lives in North Minneapolis with her husband, Ronald, and their “fur-baby,” Bobby. Her mother, brother, and sister live in North Minneapolis, and her nieces and nephews also live nearby. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, seeing the city on her scooter, walking Bobby in city parks, and traveling. You can learn more on her official city council member page.