Top 3 Vibrant Communities | May 29 – June 2
June 2, 2017 by Blandin Foundation
1) Willmar: Inviting diverse youth in Willmar to develop new skills, connect to the community and to each other, a trio of men launched a new summer garden with some unexpected produce. Nate Erickson, Abdiweli Yusuf and Ben Larson, creators of the MNyou Youth Garden, are working alongside 30 minority youth (ages 12-21) to grow traditional vegetables as well as plants native to Africa. The group will plant, care for, harvest, and ultimately sell the vegetables to community partners.
“Our goal is to be as diversified as the whole community, grow the community of Willmar. Show them we are one community. We are working together as one person.”
2) Hinckley/Pine City: A program in Pine County is connecting students with special needs to the community to make their transition out of high school more fluid. It focuses on skills needed in home living, community participation, recreation and leisure. Students are encouraged to engage in volunteer opportunities to create a civic connection.
“I enjoy the connections in the community with businesses or services and that the students feel like they’re connected,” said Matthew Monson. “I want them to know that they are accepted in the community and that the get to the spot where they want to be.”
3) Finland: Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, a Foundation grantee for more than 30 years, is celebrating the completion of Phase 1 of 3 of a series of capital projects that will enhance the experience of the camp for staff and students K-12. Partnering with surrounding communities to raise $9.4 million, the facility will have a new staff house, maintenance building and sustainable lodge for classrooms.
“We want to connect them [students] in an authentic way to the water and energy they use so they can go back home and make informed decisions.”
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