Baldwin, Todd, Eden Valley and Brainerd zero in on getting people involved

Residents of four central Minnesota communities were in Little Falls again on Thursday to get more training on how to get their neighbors involved in taking up civic challenges.

The four places — Baldwin Township in Sherburne County, Todd County as a whole and the cities of Brainerd and Eden Valley — are participating in the Initiative Foundation’s Healthy Communities Partnership. The goal is to get residents involved in whatever problems they think should be tackled — better planning, for example, or a more vibrant business district, more parks and trails, a stronger safety net for old people.

People from each community zeroed in on their issues, showing photos of what people like and what they want changed and starting to figure out how to bring friends and neighbors into the process.

In the next couple months, each place will hold a public gathering to give residents a say in what issues get tackled and an opportunity to help tackle them.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Minnesota Public Radio News’ role here has been to focus on two of the places — Baldwin Township and Todd County – and tell some of the stories that illuminate challenges. We’re testing the notion that our journalism can enhance people’s engagement in their community.

Jeff Holm, one of the prime movers of this effort in Baldwin Township, says he’s pleased with the enthusiastic group involved so far. Next up for them is a session at 7 p.m. 6 p.m. (note the UPDATED time) Wednesday to discuss how to recruit more community members to that “vision” session this spring.

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