Several Fergus Falls graduates of the Blandin Community Leadership Program (CLP) took on a statewide challenge and emerged as winners--garnering first place in the Thriving by Design competition.
Two months ago, Minnesota Rural Partners announced a statewide contest for a community, regional or statewide vision for Minnesota’s future, as part of the Minnesota Sesquicentennial celebration in 2008. The challenge was to use what has been learned over the last 150 years and design a plan for the future of Minnesota that will help the state thrive for the next 150 years.
Several graduates of the Blandin CLP were inspired by what they had learned about building strong communities during their year-long Blandin training. After some brainstorming they came up with the topic of reusing old buildings for new purposes. They called their concept “Little Cities.” Buildings like the empty milk plant or the abandoned flour mill in Fergus Falls could be redesigned to include housing, office space, retail stores and recreation areas. The green space surrounding these Little Cities would be open to the public for hiking trails or park space. The people living in these Little Cities would work in the offices, run the retail stores and use the recreation space for art shows and activity centers. Multiple Little Cities could be developed in different parts of a rural town depending on the reuse of the old buildings.
The essay answered the application questions, and artists stepped up to provide drawings and photos of the Little Cities concept. The completed application was hand delivered to the Thriving by Design judges.
The group held its collective breath. But whatever the outcome of the competition, the participants had learned a lot about planning for a diverse population to thrive in Minnesota rural communities.
News came today: “Congratulations! I am writing to let you know that [the Little Cities Design] team’s entry into the Thriving by Design Competition was awarded first place Visionary Award!”
Members of the design team will be traveling to Brainerd to receive the award at the Minnesota Rural Summit on May 10.
Read the winning Thriving by Design entry!
Minnesota Rural Partners will post the entry plus the accompanying drawings and photos online after the May 10th summit.