For history buffs and photography fans, “Instameets” open historic Twin Cities locations

“Instameets” are held at photogenic Twin Cities locations, and connect Instagram users to fellow photographers.

An Instagram meet up brought together community on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at the Tonkadale Greenhouse in Minnetonka, MN.

Easton Green

An Instagram meet up brought together community on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at the Tonkadale Greenhouse in Minnetonka, MN.

Maddy Folstein

Anyone can feel like an amateur photographer thanks to Instagram, but organizations like MN Community and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota are using the app to bolster community engagement.

Originally organized by MN Community, “Instameets” are held at photogenic Twin Cities locations, and connect Instagram users to fellow photographers and photography experts.

“We got started a year ago last September […] and created it as a mechanism for organizing different types of community events,” Rachel Ewell, one of the co-founders of MN Community, said. “We’re providing an opportunity for the Instagram community to get together.”

The events work well with MN Community’s mission of connecting the Twin Cities population to interesting events and places in the metro area.

“MN Community seeks to provide awareness of interesting things we like in the community,” Ewell said. “Obviously, old spaces tend to be fairly photogenic so we’ve done a variety of events with the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and Preserve Minneapolis.”

Attendance is not limited by photography skill level.

“We have people who up until recently just brought their phones. We also have people that bring very advanced cameras to the Instameets,” Ewell said.

Instameets hosted in partnership with the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota have more of a historical focus.

“We’ve adapted some of our walking tours to include photography,” Natalie Heneghan, the education coordinator at the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota said. “We have both a local historical architecture expert who will give a few tips or ideas on using your phone to capture architectural features.”

These Instameets have taken place in the Mill District, the Warehouse District and at locations in Stillwater.

“They don’t need to be uber-picturesque places, but I think it’s neat to find a place and dig into it for a while,” Heneghan said. “When we did a warehouse tour our guide took us through back alleyways and looked through back windows.”

On Feb. 26, MN Community and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota will host an Instameet at the James J. Hill House in St. Paul.

“When I was talking with the folks at MN community it seemed like a logical place,” Heneghan said.

Organizers hope that participants leave Instameet with a greater understanding of the community around them.

“Instagram is a great way for adults of all different ages to build their social circle,” Ewell said. “So one of the things we’re really trying to get people to do is introduce themselves to someone they don’t know. The biggest thing we’re trying to focus more on is the idea of building community.”

What: Exploring James J Hill House Instameet

When: SundayFeb. 26,10 a.m. – noon

Where: James J Hill House, 240 Summit Ave., St. Paul

Cost: Free