Janne Flisrand is a small-business owner with 15 years of experience in bringing people together to make progressive change in Minneapolis. Janne sees her role, both professionally and as an activist, as solving problems in cities by listening to the expertise of the people who live there.
Janne’s company was hired to lead the Minnesota Green Communities initiative. It brought state and city policymakers together with nonprofits to ensure all the affordable housing funded in Minnesota is green and healthy. In 2009, she helped found the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, a volunteer-driven coalition that brought Open Streets to Minneapolis and helped pass the city’s recent protected bikeway plan.
She’s written a development handbook for neighborhoods, a healthy home checklist, and best practices for implementing green maintenance and financing for multifamily properties. Janne has blogged for American Public Media’s national radio show, Marketplace, and currently writes for the Minnesota-based transportation and land use policy site streets.mn.
Life and Education
Janne grew up in Austin, MN. After college, she taught in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for 18 months. She moved to Minneapolis in 1996, when she cooperatively purchased her four-unit building in Lowry Hill.
Janne earned her MA in Urban Anthropology from the University of Memphis after leading a drop-in youth program in Saint Paul. She has an undergraduate degree in anthropology and Scandinavian studies, which she put to use as a language camp director for 14 years.
Around the Neighborhood
As a landlord, Janne’s turned her building into a real community. Her backyard doubles as a community garden and meeting place, which she tills with her tenants and neighbors. She also planted a front-yard North Star cherry tree, which she calls her “excuse for a front-yard party.” Janne held the 13th Annual Cherry Harvest in July 2016. She’s added a second cherry tree in the backyard for 2017, and you’re very much invited.
Janne works as a Minneapolis election judge every year, registering and signing in voters. She's a year-round bike commuter and avid bus rider--not just as practical transportation, but for the way it expands her understanding of her neighbors and the city she loves.
The 10th Annual Cherry Harvest was the setting for Janne’s surprise (to the guests) wedding to her spouse Ethan in 2013. Considering the short notice, guests were clad not in formal wear, but rather the old clothes they were willing to have stained with cherry juice.
Janne is a devoted aunt. These days, she reserves time two evenings a week to read chapter books to her niece over Skype.
Ethan moved to Minneapolis in 1991 after graduating from the University of Virginia to study political science at the University of Minnesota. With Janne’s encouragement, Ethan began biking to work more than 10 years ago. He enjoys bike-commuting every school day to St. Paul Central High School where he is a proud and active union member (St Paul Federation of Teachers) and a social studies teacher. Ethan is the proud father of two cats. By all accounts he is excited to embark on his new life as a political spouse.