Top Three Vibrant Communities | June 13 – 17
June 17, 2016 by Blandin Foundation
1.) Kenyon: When it comes to small town vibrancy sometimes it’s the little things. Kenyon is a Southeastern Minnesota city with a total area of 2.3 square miles and 1800 residents. One of the most rewarding aspects about living small town rural is the tight-knit sense of togetherness that people have for one another. Nobody exemplifies this spirit more than Jon Held, who bought 144 hats just like his for elementary students. His incredible act of generosity and kindness is a benchmark to strive for.
“Over the course of the school year, Jon has received numerous inquiries from first and second-graders about the availability of the hat. At first they wanted the one on his head, but as the number of kids who wanted it grew, Jon conceived another plan. Long story short, Jon bought them all hats.”
“Every time I saw these kids, that’s all they talked about. I was driving back to Kenyon in mid-April and I said to myself, “If these kids want my cap that badly, they’re going to get one.”
2.) Park Rapids: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tim O’Brien, Carol Bly, Sinclair Lewis and Gary Paulsen all have two things in common: they are all highly influential, highly recognized authors—and they are all from Minnesota. Our state has rich literary roots anyway you look at—and celebrating in this tradition is the “Author Fest” in Park Rapids. This Saturday, from 11 to 3, writers from across the genre spectrum will gather to meet and greet readers of all ages.
“This is a great opportunity for people to interact with authors, meet new authors, and if you wish, purchase their books and have them signed,” said Sally Wills, co-owner of Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery, which hosts the event.
3.) Becker: The annually successful event “Freedom Days” introduced a new community event this year—Let’s Move! Open Streets. The Becker Community Center was barricaded off so that young families could flood the streets for a plethora of activities. Local police officers parked their squad cars at barricades and drew attention to the swelling event. There were helmet, reflector and bike giveaways to go along with demo projects to display what future “safe-streets” could look like.
“This is one of those occasions where it’s fun to be seen and talk to people,” said Chief Brent Baloun. “It’s positive and fun.”
“Part of having events like this is to get people out and get input,” said Jamie Cassidy, director of parks and recreation and Community Center manager. “Today is a great way to promote activity and get people used to what future streets could look like.”
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