In a comment on a recent post about the future of urban sprawl, Sherburne County Planner Jon Sevald brought up an interesting idea about how to build community in Baldwin:
“It is difficult to notice the difference where one community ends and
one begins whether it’s a township or a fully developed city. It is
even more difficult when townships like Baldwin lack a physical
community center, such as a downtown or a lake that defines the
community. Baldwin has a number of lakes, but I don’t think the
lakes themselves define Baldwin. The township is more than just a lake
What Baldwin may want to consider rather than trying to define the
township as one community, is what are the distinctive neighborhoods
within the township, and how can those neighborhoods be improved to
further establish micro-communities.”
Baldwin certainly already has established neighborhoods, particularly around its lakes. Could focusing on building up these individual neighborhoods be key to creating the identity of the township as a whole? Does the whole township need to be defined one way, or can it find strength in a diversity of definitions among its neighborhoods?
There are also some benefits that can come from micro-community concepts where groups of neighbors share similar interests or desires for their land, as well
I could see a group of people wanting an agriburbia-type development growing their own food in backyard gardens and setting up a central framers market within the community.
Or a outdoor recreation community built near trails where they’d have easy access and could enjoy hiking, biking, and snowmobiling with their neighbors.
Perhaps an artist community could emerge, as well, with a centralized exhibit area.
But I wonder if micro-communities would just cause further isolation in an already isolated population. Perhaps instead of building physical micro-communities, Baldwin could build intellectual ones within the matrix of something that would bring all of these neighborhoods together.
Creating a community center received 45 votes at the June visioning session. Perhaps a community center could be a central space of activities for a variety of micro-community groups to form — where gardeners, snowmobilers, artists and other like-minded individuals could connect.
What do you think about the micro-community idea?