Minnesota town creates a vision
NY Mills attendance crucial for Community Visioning Program
October 24, 2007
New York Mills Herald
New York Mills, Minnesota
The more community involvement the better community vision for the future of New York Mills. That’s the basic idea behind the Horizons program and this Saturday’s Strategic Visioning program to be held at the school.
The program, which features motivational speaker David Beurle from Australia, is the fourth of five phases of the Horizons program, which is a community-based initiative sponsored and supported by the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
To meet program requirements organizers say they need 180 people from the community (NY Mills and surrounding area) to attend Saturday’s program and complete this phase, and move on to the fifth and final action phase. It is critical to the program to meet the attendance goal. Upon completion of all five phases NY Mills stands to receive a $10,000 grant.
When it comes to creating a thriving community, community members themselves are the key to success and the goal of this session is to get input from all corners of the community.
Everyone is encouraged to attend and learn more about the community, discuss ideas about the community’s future, and listen to the speaker. Buerle holds a firm conviction that the future of rural and regional areas, lies in the hands of the local people. He created Innovative Leadership Australia, with the mission of bringing the tools and skills to the people who care the most – the people who choose to make rural towns, centers and regions their home.
He has a passion for rural life; having been raised on a farm and having worked all his life in, and with, rural communities.
Amy Wallgren, one of the NY Mills residents who has been involved with the program since the start, encourages the community to attend Saturday’s visioning program, Wallgren has participated in the Study Circles, was one of the LeadershipPlenty leaders and helped plan Saturday’s final visioning program.
“It makes sense to have as many people involved as we can. If we want to create an idea of where we’re going and what we want to accomplish in the next 5, 10, 15 years, we want to get as many ideas and thoughts working together on it. You never know who might have a super idea,” Wallgren said.
The Horizons program in NY Mills started about a year ago with a one day overview of the program. The next phase consisted of the Study Circles, where groups of citizens discussed poverty and a plan for community action. LeadershipPlenty followed with community members attending nine sessions of leadership training. That led to this Saturday’s Strategic Visioning where neighbors and community members will come together to prioritize the next steps. The final phase is the Action phase where, with the help of Horizons, the vision will become reality.
With eradicating poverty and creating a thriving community in mind, study circles met last spring and came up with ideas such as a community mentoring program, recruiting businesses, creating a thrift store, establishing a community newsletter, kinship program, community pride project, and job counseling.
“Right from the start I noticed that the participants came from a nice cross section of people from the community,” Wallgren said. “There were both the core people who tend to be involved in things, as well as people newer to the process. It’s nice to see those two groups interact. That cross section was especially noticeable in the Leadership portion of the program, and I think it’s nice for people to hear ideas and consider opinions that they maybe don’t think about in their own particular groups.”
Lori Rothstein is the Horizons Community Coordinator with the University of Minnesota Extension and has worked closely with the NY Mills groups.
“New York Mills has taken to heart the principles of Horizons. Throughout each phase of the process, leadership and participation have been both diverse and remarkable,” she said. “The Study Circles brought together people from different backgrounds and of different generations to dialogue about poverty. The sessions helped to crate not only a greater understanding of the challenges people in the community face, but also generated momentum and action around ideas that would ensure NYM is a thriving community for everyone.”
Saturday’s program starts with a free meal in the school commons, 5-6 p.m., with the high school jazz band performing during the meal. At 6 p.m. the program will begin in the auditorium. There will be free child care available during the program.
“The community visioning session is a time for every person in the community to come together to create a vision for New York Mills,” Rothstein said. “The evening will be full of energy and provide an opportunity to collectively craft a vision for the future of New York Mills.”
Rothstein added: “Working with New York Mills on Horizons has truly been a pleasure. Each person has added a unique dimension to the process and has given incredible effort and energy that has brought life to Horizons in NY Mills. It is because of the efforts of the community and those who have been highly involved with the initiative that we have come this far.”
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