Artful Appreciation of Seitu Jones
CRWD Board Manager 2005-2020
Everyone at Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) thanks Seitu Jones for his immeasurable contributions to the District during his service as Board Manager from 2005-2020. After fifteen years on the board, Jones announced he would step down in September 2020 to focus on other pursuits and enjoy his Wednesday evening bike club rides.
Heartfelt thanks, personal stories, some tears, and much laughter were shared during Manager Jones’ final board meeting on September 16th. He was appointed CRWD Board manager in 2005 and was the first person of color on a watershed district board in the state of Minnesota. In 2006 Manager Jones was elected as board secretary, a position he held until his departure. During his tenure Manager Jones was a mentor and inspiration to many. He fostered relationships within the organization and the community. The love for water, the community, and the work of CRWD is evident across Manager Jones’ service.
As a CRWD board manager Seitu Jones was a transformative presence, as several in attendance at the meeting noted – he pushed our work into new areas and strengthened our policies and programs. Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter shared that Seitu Jones’ “work bridges the wide chasm that has traditionally been between nature and art and cultural communities and civic infrastructure.” A theme that was echoed by many during the meeting.
During Manager Jones’ decade and a half of service he was involved in many significant achievements at the District, from the first District rules in 2006, to keystone projects like the Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary and Frogtown Farm, to the 2010 and 2020 Watershed Management Plans. He was also always there to lend a hand, from community events, to a fish survey in Como Lake. CRWD Water Resource Project Manager Britta Belden shared that Manager Jones pulled over 100 bullheads out of net that day but did it quite artfully.
In 2012 Manager Jones encouraged the first ever Watershed Art Plan as well as our Watershed Artist in Residence program with Christine Baumler. The art plan and the watershed artist program have significantly shaped many District projects and programs, beginning with artist commissioned elements in the Green Line rain gardens and planters in 2013. Art and creative thinking are visible across our new building and grounds at 595 Aldine. CRWD Water Resource Project Manager Nate Zwonitzer recalls Manager Jones encouraged him to take something that is usually a waste product – Siberian Elm, an invasive tree species, and turn it into something beautiful we can use. The wood paneling in the lobby and walls of our building are Siberian Elm salvaged from the restoration of Willow Reserve.
Manager Jones was instrumental in the Diversity Strategic Plan, first developed and adopted in 2016-2018. An updated Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan was approved at the September 16th board meeting. The plan’s goals were incorporated into the 2020 Watershed Management Plan that guides the District’s work over the next ten years. CRWD continues to examine our work through a diversity and inclusion lens. Prompting the board and staff to connect our work back to the community we serve and to support their needs.
As many at the final meeting shared, Jones is an inspiration and a leader in sharing his love for community and the environment. Christine Baeumler, watershed artist, recalled Jones’ own words “Years ago you spoke about love – about the beloved community and the love that we can have for each other and for the environment. I just want to thank you for sharing that kind of love with all of us here and in the community and loving water as a relative.” Thank you, Seitu. For your love, creativity, laughter, and dedication to the environment through the lens of the community.
CRWD Administrator Mark Doneux said in closing “Seitu, it’s so evident that you’ve had a tremendous and amazing impact on all of us personally and as an organization. I hope that this experience has enriched your life as much as it enriched ours. Thank you.”
Look for details on CRWD’s newest board manager in a upcoming newsletter. Not on the list? Sign up now.