Tonight is the first of four “community visioning” sessions planned by residents working with the Initiative Foundation in four central Minnesota communities.
Residents in Todd County, where one out of six people is over 65 years old, are gathering at 5:30 p.m. at the community center in Browerville to focus on the challenges and opportunities of maintaining service and quality of life as the community ages. Check out our video, audio and text coverage of Todd County at Ground Level’s Todd County web page.
Next up, on June 22, is Brainerd, where residents are likely to focus on the high unemployment and high rental rate in the city itself, as opposed to the more prosperous lake country surrounding Brainerd.
On June 29, residents of Baldwin Township in Sherburne County, will tackle the questions of growth, planning and the foreclosure boom that has been lowered on many communities in the outlying regions of Twin Cities exurbia. Find out more at our Ground Level Baldwin page.
Then on July 20, residents in Eden Valley will hold a similar session, looking at the general issues of how small, rural towns compete and survive.
All four places are participating in the Initiative Foundation’s Healthy Communities Partnership, a program that provides training, expertise and cash incentives for residents trying to grapple with issues that can make their communities better places to live. MPR News’ Ground Level has conducted a pilot project by providing news and information in two of the communities in an effort to increase the level of engagement among residents.
In each case, the “visioning session” is an opportunity to let anybody in the community have a say in what issues residents want to address. It begins a process that will narrow those suggestions down to a manageable few and then allow a core team of residents to take action. A key to success is that the team have a broad spectrum of support from business, education, local government and other interests.