Red Wing rallies all voices to change community story

Members of Red Wing ACE gather to discuss community branding work

You need to go slow to go fast. This mantra reverberates off Ethan Seaberg’s lips as he recounts the genesis story (as he calls it) of Red Wing’s community branding work.

He heard the phrase while attending Blandin Foundation’s Academy of Community Engagement (ACE) in 2014 and it stuck. The ACE program built on Ethan’s previous Blandin leadership training by bringing together a group of established leaders in his community to strengthen relationships and deepen their work on an existing economic development issue.

For Red Wing, it was their re-entry into an important conversation that started in 2008 about how the community is positioning themselves for the future.
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Top 3 Vibrant Communities for March 23-27

To lift up local community leadership in rural Minnesota, every Friday Blandin Foundation will post the Top 3 Vibrant Communities based on timely news coverage and reader submissions. If you have a vibrant story to share, email ammcinerney@blandinfoundation.org.

Northfield: “The City of Northfield has joined the ranks of many Minnesota cities that seek to find and improve ways in which their operations can be environmentally friendly and healthy.” Taking part in the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s GreenStep program, Northfield is getting members of their community involved to “green” up the city.

Winona: Friendships Forever, a program of the Winona Senior Friendship Center, is extending their programming and reach through technology. Seniors living at home who have trouble traveling can socialize  and stay connected to friends via iPads that are delivered by staff and volunteers. Here is an energizing story of one senior woman who stays healthy – both physically and mentally –  by participating in Movin’ to the Oldies, a moderate exercise class.

Crow Wing County:  Crow Wing Energized, a community movement led by Essentia Health and Crow Wing County to improve overall health and wellness, recently awarded more than $22,000 through Healthy Community Grants for projects like a seed library at the Brainerd Public Library, a wellness program at The Center and trail way-finding signage. Organizations can still apply for funding through April 20.

 

A jogger zips by the Crow Wing County building

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The rural Minnesota housing crunch

Source: Minnesota Housing Finance Agency

Rural Minnesota communities stretching from the Iowa border all the way up to Canada are starting to feel the bite of the housing crunch. Places like Worthington and Roseau that have generated a wealth of good-paying jobs for the last decade, and have attracted diverse workers from across Minnesota and beyond, are wondering how far their community’s housing supply will stretch before it snaps.

Sunday’s Star Tribune covered the issue, giving us a glimpse into what both rural communities, and the Minnesotans working in them, are experiencing.

“The housing shortage stretches across Minnesota, where many employers kept hiring even through the recession. Now that the economy is picking up, employers are ready to expand – if their hometowns are.”

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Top 3 Vibrant Communities for March 16-20

To lift up local community leadership in rural Minnesota, every Friday Blandin Foundation will post the Top 3 Vibrant Communities based on timely news coverage and reader submissions. If you have a vibrant story to share, email ammcinerney@blandinfoundation.org.

  1. Thief River Falls: Three students from Lincoln High School (LHS) are gaining workplace experience, getting paid and earning high school credit all at the same time! The Education Beyond the Classroom program is connecting LHS students with local manufacturer DigiKey to work in areas like Internet Orders, Invoicing/Clerical, Receiving, Records Management, Information Management and Expediting. A great opportunity for students to explore future career options and see what’s available to them in their home town! Full story at Thief River Falls Times
  2. Redwood Falls: Twenty-four residents of the Redwood Falls area recently returned from their five-day leadership retreat. The training covers identifying and describing community issues and opportunities, effective interpersonal communication, building social capital, appreciating personality differences, managing interpersonal conflict, understanding community power, mobilizing community resources, and goal setting. See the participants here.
  3. Grand Rapids: Last week, the Grand Rapids Arts and Culture Commission released the GRMN Creates Roadmap that “lays out the ways the city would like to approach community arts and advance a Grand Rapids culture…over the next 10 years.” Through 44 interviews, three focus groups, two community meetings, a strategic vision discussion, and a survey completed by 332, the  City of Grand Rapidshas widespread support to start implementing work in support of their five identified goals. Full story at Grand Rapids Herald Review

Launch of GRMN Creates Roadmap - Image courtesy of Grand Rapids Herald Review

RREAL installs first solar heating system in Itasca

We received an exciting call today from a Grand Rapids resident letting us know that today was the day solar panels were being installed on his house by the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL). As a rural Minnesota-based organization, RREAL works in partnership with Community Action Agencies and Habitat for Humanity affiliates to provide residential solar heating systems for those in need. Last year, Blandin Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to support RREAL’s installation efforts in Itasca County. After working with Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency and KOOTASCA Community Action to identify eligible households, RREAL is now planning to carry out at least five installations in our home giving area while also educating local organizations and residents on the benefits of solar heating for lower-income households. It’s exciting to see the work in action. Thanks for the call!

 

RREAL staff install the flashing on the roof in preparation for the solar panels

 

 

Top 3 Vibrant Communities for March 9-13

To lift up local community leadership in rural Minnesota, every Friday Blandin Foundation will post the Top 3 Vibrant Communities based on timely news coverage and reader submissions. If you have a vibrant story to share, email ammcinerney@blandinfoundation.org.

  1. Morris: Held in Morris, MN, the Rural Arts and Culture Summit opened up for registration last week and announced their keynote speaker, Theresa Secord, a traditional Penobscot basketweaver. This event “gathers artists, art organizations, rural-centric organizations and community and economic development leaders to learn about people and places that have built their stories ‘from the ground up’.” For more information, visit the website.
  2. Park Rapids: This week, the Headwaters Center for Lifelong Learning hosted University of Minnesota Extension researcher Ben Winchester who spoke with local residents about rural migration trends. Attendees learned about the “brain gain” of newcomers between the ages of 30 and 49 that many rural counties are experiencing and how they can make the most of this trend. For more on this research, visit Extension’s website.
  3. Harmony: The Fillmore County Journal reports that Harmony, Minnesota is planning to launch a community garden project this growing season. Partners from the public library, Fillmore Central High School and the community center are all working together to make this collective dream a reality. For more on how the community came together to plan for the garden, read the full article.

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Inviting youth & community to learn Why Treaties Matter

Community members gather at Why Treaties Matter exhibit at the Edge Center in Bigfork

Community members gather at Why Treaties Matter exhibit at the Edge Center in Bigfork

It’s your story. It’s my story. It’s our story. Yet, it’s a story few of us know.

For eight months now, community members throughout Itasca County have been exploring their shared history and filling in knowledge gaps about the promises made between American Indians and the United States that have shaped Minnesota’s past, present and future. The story is being told through the Why Treaties Matter exhibit, a traveling collection of rich, authentic Dakota and Objibwe voices that share stories or survival and creative leadership.

Made possible through a partnership between Itasca Community College and Circle of Healing, a local cross-cultural group, this week the traveling exhibit landed at its eighth stop (out of 22), the Edge Center in Bigfork, Minnesota.
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The role of local news in rural communities

“Whether in a tech-savvy metropolis or a city where the town square is still the communication hub, local news matters deeply to the lives of residents.” – Pew Research Center

Volume and choice. These two common denominators are changing the way communities access and appreciate local news, says a recent report from Pew Research Center.

The report, entitled “Local News in a Digital Age,” takes a close look at three metropolitan cities – Denver, CO, Macon, GA, and Sioux City, IA – and studied the factors that influenced how residents are consuming local news.

I know what you’re thinking – stop right here, cities that range from population 125,000 to 2 million simply don’t translate to rural Minnesota. Well, yes and no.

While the data is not meant to be extrapolated, rural communities should take note of some of the themes that surfaced.

  • “In more wired cities news may literally travel faster.”
  • “Civically engaged residents are more connected with their local news and are drawn to a more diverse set of news sources than are residents who are less civically engaged.”
  • “Overall interest in local news is highest in the city with the most limited number of offerings.”

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Baudette Library a True Community Connector

Baudette Public Library Tablet Training Class

Baudette Library Visitors Test Out New Tablets

After her first day on the job, Kelli Pelland knew some changes had to be made. From the dinosaur-era computers to the drag-your-feet-in-the-mud speed of the Internet connection, she realized that the Baudette Public Library didn’t have the makings of a community connecting hub…yet.

“We were kind of outdated,” she says. “We needed to update our technology to be able to offer the type of resources and services the community needs.”

When Baudette area community leaders learned about the opportunity to become a Blandin Broadband Community (BBC), Kelli jumped at the chance, ready to work with others to advance Internet use in Lake of the Woods County.
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Top 3 Vibrant Communities for March 2-6

To lift up local community leadership in rural Minnesota, every Friday Blandin Foundation will post the Top 3 Vibrant Communities in rural Minnesota based on timely news coverage and reader submissions. If you have a vibrant story to share, email ammcinerney@blandinfoundation.org.

  1. Lanesboro: Economic development and education are trying to work hand-in-hand in Lanesboro to recruit new families and businesses. At a February 19 school board meeting, Don Bell from the Lanesboro Economic Development Authority offered an open invitation. “Bell said he would like to keep the lines of communication open between the school and the EDA, and possibly have the chance to work on something together in the future.” We look forward to seeing what vibrant possibilities could be on the horizon for Lanesboro. From the Fillmore County Journal
  2. Todd County: After being awarded a $536,702 Border-to-Border Broadband grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Mainstreet Communications LLC will “build broadband infrastructure to serve 217 unserved premises in the Sauk Lake area, which is located primarily in Todd County, with some project area in rural Stearns County…It is estimated that 20 percent of the premises to be served are either a business or running a home-based business.” From the Osakis Review
  3. Grand Marais: This week Budget Travel told us something we already know to be true – Minnesota’s small towns are cool! After a well-fought battle, Grand Marais won out for America’s Coolest Small Town. This annual competition will shine a spotlight on the vibrant northeastern Minnesota community in an upcoming issue of Budget Travel. From MPR News

Grand Marais - photo courtesy of Trip Advisor member Beverlyks (click for original source)

 

 

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