Building exurban identity with a history trail

One of the side effects of Baldwin’s quick population explosion is a fractured identity.

While older residents or children who grew up in the area may know its history, some newcomers hardly realize Baldwin exists as its own entity.

It sounds strange to think someone could live in a township without even knowing it, but when you consider that Baldwin’s residents technically have addresses listed in Princeton or Zimmerman, it’s possible to see how a few people can slip through without knowing much about the township.

Baldwin doesn’t have a downtown, community center or other area that can provide it with a physical identity. While many ideas are being considered about how to create such an area, budget constraints make progress difficult.

One inexpensive way to build community while educating residents about the history of Baldwin could be a history trail.

The idea is an off-shoot of a project St. Cloud State Professor Jerry Wellik is working on to create a poetry trail in his hometown and other areas.

He said poetry trails usually follow a path like any nature trail with poems posted along the path that help add meaning to the place in which they are located. The end of the trail leads to a gathering place.

Baldwin could create a poetry trail, but a history trail — with historic stories or information posted along the path — could provide a wealth of meaning to residents.

To do so, Baldwin would need some interesting land for the path, plaques and to clear a space for gathering at the end. A few picnic tables, or perhaps someday a gazebo, could stand at the end the path.

Perhaps building the path could be a community project that involves area youth.

What else could Baldwin do to help residents engage in the community while learning about its past?

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