MCP_Anniv_logoMinnesota Community Pride 25th anniversary competition moves into judging phase; winners recognized at the State Fair

Over 30 communities  entered the 25th Anniversary Minnesota Community Pride competition, the winners were recognized at the 2009 State Fair:

Communities with up to 999 residents

BEST OF CLASS:  Lanesboro ( Fillmore County)

Project/Initiative:  Lanesboro Local – Marketplace for Local Food & Goods

Lanesboro Local is a new non-profit venture located in Fillmore County, an area ranked among the State’s poorest and most rapidly aging.  Lanesboro Local’s mission is to “…stimulate the local economy and provide greater access to local foods by nurturing and supporting local growers, producers, artisans, and businesses.”

Developed from an initial 2008 entrepreneurship grant from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Lanesboro Local created a virtual, online Marketplace that connects growers and producers with consumers. Following launch of the online Market, planners developed a brick & mortar Marketplace supported by memberships and modest consignment fees.  Future goals include certification and licensure for on-site food handling, processing, and selling of locally produced products.

Selected Key Partners:  Southern MN Initiative Foundation; four area Farmers Markets; and over 60 area producers and growers

Find Out More

RUNNER UP:  Hoffman (Grant County)

Project/Initiative:  Breaking Down Barriers and Revitalizing Hoffman

Hoffman, a city of fewer than 700 in Grant County, has created a number of initiatives to integrate newcomers to the community, support local businesses, and reduce poverty. Specific projects undertaken recently include city-supported development of townhomes, creation of a farmers market, community garden and weekly community supper, launch of community-wide block parties and clothing exchange, rehabilitation of a softball field, and a revitalized ambassadors program to welcome newcomers to the community.

Inspired by participation in the Horizons community leadership program (an effort of the Northwest Area Foundation), Hoffman will sustain these initiatives—and create others—through standing Action Teams focused on key issues such as youth, jobs, transportation, and addressing urgent needs. At its most recent community-wide ‘visioning’ effort, 133 persons—nearly 20% of the community’s total population—were in attendance.

Selected Key Partners:  City of Hoffman; area churches; area businesses; Prime West of Alexandria; and Minnesota Twins.

Find Out More  &

Maynard (Chippewa County)
Center City (Chisago County)
Sebeka (Wadena County)
Amboy (Blue Earth County)

Communities of 1,000 – 4,999

BEST OF CLASS:  Greater Staples (Todd County)

Project/Initiative:  Fiber Broadband Initiative

Reinventing and connecting rural and urban communities statewide is the goal of a consortium effort in Staples, a community of 3,100 in Todd County. Leaders from the K-18 system, area businesses and nonprofits, and the City of Staples see broadband capacity as key to economic growth and development and a means to ensuring long-term survival of the community:  “This is truly an opportunity to reinvent a low-income, rural area by establishing the groundwork necessary to bring in new people, new ideas, and new economic opportunities.”

This initiative involves the installation of fiber optic lines to bring high speed internet to all homes and businesses in Greater Staples.   In February 2009, phase one of this effort—installation of a direct wireless system to make wireless internet available to those just outside Staples city limits—went live. Phase two will involve installation of the broadband ‘backbone’ that will link each collaborative entity. 

Planners believe that the community collaborative team approach is unique; the collaborative team is willing and excited to document and share its methods with other communities undertaking ‘big picture’ projects. 

Selected Key Partners:  City of Staples; Lakewood Health Systems; Central Lakes College; Motley-Staples Schools; LEAP Staples Business Group.

RUNNER UP:  City of Madelia (Watonwan County)

Project/Initiative:  Madelia Mobile Village

The history of the Madelia Mobile Village is rooted in adversity. Several years ago, the Mobile Village (mobile home park) was plagued by poverty and crime. In an effort to make a change in their community, the residents of the mobile home park worked closely with various nonprofit organizations and other resources to become only the fourth manufactured home cooperative in the State of Minnesota.

In the fall of 2008, the Madelia Mobile Village Cooperative was established, taking ownership of the mobile home park.  Mobile Village has evolved from what was once a troubled community struggling with dilapidated housing and crime into a thriving, safe community. Residents have planned additional improvements that include:  new community signage, improved laundry facilities, and erection of a school bus shelter. Longer term goals include development of a community room; storm shelter, and incorporation of renewable energies and technologies. Officers of the Mobile Village Cooperative are eager to assist and mentor other mobile home parks with self-governance and community redevelopment and improvement activities.

Selected Key Partners:  Northcountry Cooperative Foundation, Leonard Street & Deinard, Friedrichs & Associates, City of Madelia and Watonwan County, Greater MN Housing & Redevelopment Authority, South Central MN Multi-County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Tony Down  Foods.

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Blooming Prairie (Steele County)

Communities of 5,000- 10,000

BEST OF CLASS:  Glencoe (McLeod County)

Project/Initiative:  Glencoe City Center Project

The Glencoe City Center Project is a grassroots community planning project designed to meet the Glencoe’s long-term facility needs by restoring the 1932 Henry Hill School building. Planners hope to redevelop the City-owned structure into a vibrant public facility that’s a source of pride for generations to come. A City-convened task force has been working for two years to create a viable plan.  A community-driven fundraising plan has garnered $1.5 million to date, thereby securing additional City and other matching funds.

When completed, the structure will provide both opportunities for public gathering and business ventures to include an expanded library and new senior center; relocated city offices; and a community space for weddings, reunions; a community gymnasium; and a Performing Arts Center. When completed, this multipurpose facility will serve surrounding McLeod County communities as well as Glencoe.

Selected Key Partners: City of Glencoe; Public Library; civic and fraternal organizations; local businesses.
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RUNNER UP:  East Grand Forks (Polk County)

Project/Initiative:  East Grand Forks Riverwalk Centre Public Art and Green Space Initiative

After the devastating floods of 1997, the community of East Grand Forks in Northwest Minnesota had the opportunity to reinvent itself—and a new vision was articulated for East Grand Forks

Public art and green space emerged from the visioning process as community priorities. Subsequently, community members developed a series of public art projects for the Riverwalk Centre, a city-owned building, in the downtown area. Working with local artists and students, a 68’x10’ wall of the Riverwalk Center was adorned with a mural depicting life from earliest days to the present. A second public art installation—an art-gallery mural—will showcase historic photos of East Grand Forks. 

Partners collaborating on the Riverwalk Centre project will continue to nurture and build relationships with local businesses, civic/service organizations, and foundations to develop additional green space and public art installations that in turn enhance downtown tourism and economic vitality.

Selected Key Partners:  Economic Development Housing Authority; East Grand Forks Marketing Task Force; Community Advantage Leadership Program; North Valley Arts Council; Great Grand Fork Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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Neighborhoods within Cities of 10,000+

BEST OF CLASS:  Historic Downtown Willmar (Kandihoyi County)

Project/ Initiative:  Historic Downtown Willmar/Willmar Design Center

After a visit to Willmar in 1995 by the Minnesota Design Team, Willmar community members incorporated their own design entity, The Willmar Design Center, to begin to revive and reinvigorate Willmar’s historic downtown neighborhood.  As the Kandiyohi County Seat, Willmar, a city of over 18,000 people, is an increasingly diverse regional center in Southwest Minnesota.

Guided by four larger goals and yearly objectives, volunteers and professionals working under the aegis of the Willmar Design Center hope to restore an important avenue, establish a downtown common with year-round market, urbanize another important thoroughfare, and establish a downtown connector to area lakes and trail.  In the words of planners, “We are reinventing our community as a place to come and gather, learn who are neighbors are and welcome them to be a part of emerging multicultural opportunity, focused on downtown.”

Key leaders within the Willmar Design Center are available as resource consultants for other Minnesota cities wanting to revive downtown areas.

Selected Key Partners:  City of Willmar; Dept. of Natural Resources; Willmar Community Foundation; community volunteers.

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RUNNER UP:  Minneapolis’(Hennepin County)

Project Initiative:  Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) on behalf of member neighborhood organizations. See member neighborhoods’ annual projects at

This nomination showcases the annual projects of the various Minneapolis neighborhood organizations affiliated with the Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP).  The goal of the overall Neighborhood Revitalization Program is to make Minneapolis’ residential areas better places to live, work, learn, and play.

Minneapolis has many of the problems of other cities – foreclosed housing, increasing crime and youth violence, apathy, lack of community involvement, and limited activities for youth. Under the aegis of NPR, citizens are invited into the City’s priority-setting process through creation of neighborhood ‘action plans’ that describe that neighborhood’s particular concerns and generates strategies to resolve them.

Selected Key Partners:  City of Minneapolis; 36 Minneapolis neighborhood organizations and their local partners.

Find Out More:  see http://www.nrp.org

Austin (Mower County)


ARTS & CULTURE – BEST OF CLASS:  Caledonia (Houston County)

Project/Initiative:  “Quilting the Countryside

Caledonia, a city of 3,000 located in southeastern Minnesota, is nominating “Quilting the Countryside,” a proactive community project aimed at increasing tourism in Houston County.  Begun as a creative barn improvement project for a local family to highlight their 1928 barn with an 8×8’ wooden “barn quilt,” the initiative has grown to 32 quilts now gracing the side of barns throughout the county. 

Caledonia Chamber of Commerce members have been available to help people create their barn quilts and to give tours and presentations to groups coming into the area. Key leaders in this initiative are consulting with other communities interested in replicating this project.

Thanks to “Quilting the Countryside,” communities across the county are better connected with a renewed sense of pride and awareness in preserving old barns and structures. In addition, the project has been a very successful collaborative effort involving many local organizations, civic groups, and local schools.

Selected Key Partners: Caledonia High School; Houston County Fair Board; City of Caledonia; Explore MN; local businesses; Houston County Historical Society.

Find Out Morehttp/


Mankato (Blue Earth County) – Twin Rivers Center for the Arts On-Line Events Calendar

St. Louis Park (Hennepin County)


Sebeka and Menahga (Wadena County)

Project/Initiative: “Connecting Rural Communities”

Believing that the impact of technology is only as good as its implementation, the Connecting Rural Communities began as pilot project of the University of Minnesota Extension Service to demonstrate how communities can use broadband to connect and create community. Menahga and Sebeka citizens had multiple learning opportunities to begin to understand and implement broadband, leadership training to undertake special sub-projects, and coaching. Citizens were able to create websites for local businesses, develop both infrastructure and training for older adult participation in internet-based activity; and explore the feasibility of a new “Cyber Café.

Connecting Rural Communities has attracted local and national media attention and awards as a replicable model.  

Selected Key Partners: U of M Extension Service and Southern Rural Development Center, the Blandin Foundation, Sebeka Healthy Communities Group, Menahga Visioning Group, and Greenwood Care Facility.

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COMMUNITY BEAUTIFICATION – BEST OF CLASS: Lake City (Wabasha and Goodhue Counties)
Project:  “Chart the Course” Initiative
Located on Lake Pepin, Lake City aspires to be more than a “drive through town” for persons on their way to other venues. After a visit by the Minnesota Design Team, city staff and a large coalition of volunteers organized to remedy a “bland and blighted” commercial district.  Working with city staff, a group of volunteers organized around “Chart the Course” in order to survey tourists, talk with dozens of community organizations and business, conduct resident surveys, and raise more than $10,000 to begin to implement recommendations made by the Design Team.
Activities and actions completed thus far include repainting and refurbishing of local storefronts; creating new downtown plantings and signage; and cleaning up the riverfront. Citizens hope these efforts will help support business retention and attraction and that it will help make Lake City a destination rather than a pass-through. 

Selected Key Partners:  City of Lake City; Minnesota Design Team; MN Dept. of Transportation
Find Out More: 


St. Louis Park (Hennepin County) – Beautify the Park


Eveleth (St. Louis County)

Project:  Creation and Opening of the Sebeka Skate Park
On July 14, 2009, a grand opening was held for the new Sebeka State Park, an initiative started and ultimately designed by Sebeka youth seeking recreation and a safe, sanctioned spot to gather. With the guidance of a local volunteer committee, area teens designed the skate park, helped raise funds for it, and will assist with its ongoing upkeep. They became a part of the process and realized the “time, commitment, and patience for the dream to become a reality.”

In promoting the Sebeka State Park in area guidebooks and newspapers, as well as on local television and community blogs, planners hope teens from the surrounding area will be inspired to use the park. Planners believe that this project “could definitely be constructed in any community with the hope (and help) of the local citizens and local government.”

Selected Key Partners:  West Central Telephone Association, Minnesota Power, Tony Hawk Foundation, American Ramp Company, Todd-Wadena Electric, Lake Region Electric,  Tru-Star Credit Union, Cross USA, Wevley Funeral Home, 1st National Bank, Sebeka Lions, Anderson Homes, Ulteig Engineers, Sebeka Wellness Action Team and City Parks and Recreation, private contributors.

St. Louis Park (Hennepin County) – Redevelopment of Elmwood

Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. / Greater Mankato Chamber of Commerce &
Economic Development (Blue Earth County)

Project:  “Greater Mankato Growth, Inc.”

Greater Mankato Growth, a broad-based effort linking education and business interests, is proactively creating programs to attract and retain a talented workforce in the face of an aging population, declining numbers of high school graduates, and increasing migration of diverse migrants to the area.  Initiatives include creation of Greater Mankato Education Council linking all pre-K-20 education institutions and area businesses; development  and staffing of  a  Young Professionals organization; and support for a Career Development Program and a Career Expo reaching more than 7,000 middle and senior high school students each year.  

Goals of Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. include retaining more than 50% of area college alumni; creating community amenities to attract and retain workers; connecting students, young professionals, and dislocated workers with career and educational opportunities; and creating a community culture that values and supports both early learning for all youth and meaningful work (paid and unpaid) for the area’s older adults.

Selected Key Partners:  Greater Mankato area schools, South Central Perkins Consortia, five area institutions of higher education, South Central Service Cooperative.

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ENTREPRENEURIAL CULTURE & SUPPORT – BEST OF CLASS: Depot Preservation Alliance of Baudette (Lake of the Woods County)
Project/Initiative:  The Depot Project -Preservation and Adaptive Re-Use
The Depot Project is a creative and proactive endeavor connecting volunteers, government agencies, and other nonprofits to reinvent the dilapidated Canadian National Depot as a community resource for Baudette.  Area artisans needed a place to work and to show their arts.  Residents, tourists, and school children wanted historic exhibits, especially in the transportation field, related to the area.  Both affordable rental apartments and small business rental spaces were in demand.  Together, these components will revitalize the downtown, promote the arts, and portray area history. 

The near-term outcomes are to have the building re-construction work completed by October 2010, when Baudette will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Great Fire of 1910.  When completed, the project will include a second story rental apartment, an artisans’ marketplace, a historic transportation exhibit, and small business rental space. Capital funding has been secured with construction planned for Fall, 2009. 

Planners believe the project could serve as a model for other communities as to how multiple needs can be combined in a collaboration that creates a shared resource for its community.

Selected Key Partners:  Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, Lake of the Woods County, MN Historical Society, City of Baudette

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Detroit Lakes (Becker County) – Business & Entrepreneur Services Center, Minnesota State Community & Technical College [MState]

Bloomington (Hennepin County)
Menahga (Wadena County)

HEALTH & WELLNESS:  Foster Grandparent Project, Marshall (Lyon County)

Project/Initiative:  “Foster Grandparents at Parkside Elementary”

A town of 13,000 in southwest Minnesota, Marshall is creatively leveraging the time and talent of its large older adult population in pairing them with elementary school students who could benefit from the attention, knowledge, and nurturing of a “foster grandparent.”  Teachers at Parkside Elementary, in collaboration with Lutheran Social Service’s Foster Grandparent program, have created an intergenerational reading project involving 85 elders at area senior residences who help 165 elementary students with reading, arts enrichment, and role modeling/positive reinforcement

In the words of the project planners, “…in bringing two age groups together in a common effort of learning and teaching, good things were bound to happen.” 

Key project partners are committed to increase the number of elders and students participating in mutually-beneficial learning and teaching exchanges that in turn enrich the whole community.

Selected Key Partners:  Marshall Public Schools, Lutheran Social Service, Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall Foundation

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HOUSING – BEST OF CLASS: Coon Rapids (Hennepin County)

Project/Initiative:  “Home for Generations”

Home for Generations is the City of Coon Rapid’s response to the increasing number of home foreclosures and decreasing values. Conceived of as a demonstration project, Home for Generations aims to show existing and prospective homeowners how they can affordably invest in aging homes, updating them for today/s families, despite the economy.

Beginning with one City purchase of a foreclosed rambler-style home, project participants modeled how to revive and reinvest in aging housing stock through buying from re-use centers, liquidators, and building material outlets; utilize tax credits and incentives; and work with contractors and city-provided remodeling advisors.

Coon Rapids will soon acquire a second foreclose home of different style—split level or one-one half story, for example—and begin the modeling process anew.  And, planners in other metro area older suburbs are exploring launch of their own Homes for Generations projects.

Selected Key Partners: City of Coon Rapids HRA, City Council, local contractors.

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NATURAL RESOURCES/ENVIRONMENT/PARKS – BEST OF CLASS: St. Louis Park Parks & Recreation Department (Hennepin County)

Project/ Initiative:  “Restoring Lilac Way”

In 1939, thanks to the New Deal/Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Relief Labor Program, wayside parks were created along Highway 100 in St. Louis Park.  Extant structures from this era represent a historically significant era; as a consequence, community representatives, city staff, and elected officials agreed to plan to relocate and restore elements of the original WPA Lilac Wayside/Roadside Park, including a trail connection, historically-accurate re-landscaping, interpretive signage, and new features created from limestone harvested from a 1939 parking wall.

A grand re-opening and 70th –anniversary celebration of the restored historical park was held on July 13, 2009. The park is now open and in daily use. Planners are eager to share the process, research, contractors and budgeting data—and their passion for restoration of WPA-era parklands—with other communities.

Selected Key Partners:  MN Department of Transportation, MN Department of Natural Resources, St. Louis Park Historical Society, Minnesota Historical Society, Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority, Three Rivers Park District, Nordic Ware, Inc., Concrete, Etc, Otting House Movers, Laukkonen Design, City of St. Louis Park staff

Find Out More:

SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD – to A Minnesota Without Poverty

A Minnesota Without Poverty is a statewide, interfaith movement to end poverty in Minnesota by 2020. Between 2000 and 2005, the poverty rate in Minnesota has grown by 17 percent. They are working with communities across the state to ensure that Minnesota is a place where all thrive by 2020.

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