Large, colorful monarch butterflies may give you a ride to a regional park this summer.
Metro Transit has wrapped two buses, dubbed Nature Connectors, with a beautiful painting designed by Minneapolis muralist Greta McLain and created in her studio, GoodSpace Murals. The painting prominently features monarch butterflies.
The buses are now traveling on routes that lead to some of the region’s most popular regional parks – Minnehaha and Theodore Wirth in Minneapolis and Como and Lake Phalen in Saint Paul – as part of an effort to highlight the connection between transit and parks.
A map highlighting the routes that serve select regional parks can be found at metrotransit.org/parks. Temporary sidewalk clings featuring butterflies will mark the path between each park and select bus stops.
“Helping connect folks to our amazing natural resources is beautiful and important work,” McLain said. “This is a huge honor for us.”
The Nature Connector buses are the brainchild of Amanda Lovelee, regional parks ambassador for the Metropolitan Council. Lovelee’s role is to help raise awareness of regional parks.
“We have so much nature in our cities that is accessible by walking, bicycling and transit,” Lovelee said. “These buses will capture people’s imaginations and help draw attention to the marvelous network of regional parks throughout the metro area.”
Butterflies are a continuing theme in the work of GoodSpace Murals.
“Butterflies are an easily accessible, powerful symbol,” McLain said. “They migrate every year. They represent immigration – current immigration, our ancestors who immigrated. And they connect us to the natural world.”
The painting McLain created for the Nature Connector buses also includes images of two South High School students who she met in an art class.
One of those students, Hodan Ahmed, loved the class and since landed a summer job working in McLain’s studio. While Hodan hasn’t yet seen the wrapped bus, she saw a photo of the mural and said that her portrait is a “really good” likeness.
Earlier this week, one of the wrapped buses was used to bring students from the Matthews Recreation Center to Minnehaha Park, where they met with a naturalist from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.
Additional events will be held throughout the summer.
View the map of routes serving the Theodore Wirth, Minnehaha, Como and Phalen regional parks at metrotransit.org/parks. For additional trip planning help, call 612-373-3333.