17 February 2011

i think i can, i think i can.

Finding Windom's public presentation went really well last night, although it would have been nice to have a few more people there.  After talking about what Finding Windom has done, our mission, vision and goals for the community, we had a great discussion with the audience about the community.  I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome of our discussion.  Thank you to those who came to support and inquire about Finding Windom.

MN 2020 is at it again, supporting and giving relevance to rural southwest Minnesota!  Here is a great exerpt from the featured article at http://www.mn2020.org/.  Check it out. Windom take notice to the encouraging words written here:

A new book by Minnesota author and former Marshall Independent editor Dana Yost highlights small towns’ challenges and triumphs. Some of the short stories, essays and poems in "The Right Place" help inform and move Minnesota’s public policy debate forward.

The following excerpt is about a speech for the 30th anniversary of the Minnesota Machinery Museum in Hanley Falls. In it, Yost talks about how small towns persevere through adversity, reinvent themselves, and thrive in a new generation.

When I was the editor of the Marshall Independent from 1999-2008, I was strongly behind on the idea of cooperation and commitment to development—if we don't invest in and support the things most vital to us, we will, indeed, struggle even more on the prairie. Stagnation is a death sentence, and too many are willing to let that happen. But not everyone.

I have seen others, in recent years, set aside differences, set aside fears, and be willing to take a chance on something new in order to maintain a sense of the old—a sense of quality to the place they call home.

So back to [Hanley Falls’ Minnesota Machinery] museum and 1980. I've cited those other examples, but the museum and its leaders were trend-setters, ground-breakers: Among the first to take, and make, a stand against rural decline.

I know it has not always been easy since that day the doors opened, but you were among the first to see the value of and to implement major change — adaptation of an old building for new purpose, a new way to serve the people of this region, and an important way to preserve its past. That's quite a bundle all wrapped into an institution that sits in a town of less than three-hundred people. But you have made it happen.

You saw the new reality coming—a town without its school, but instead of being stubborn and sitting there, arms crossed, waiting for the end, you saw beyond defeat and into possibility. That means there was vision. And you turned possibility into what we celebrate tonight. And that means courage. And you have sustained it for thirty years. And that means wisdom, work and dedication.

And I know it connects. Just look at the museum's own Web site and the excerpts of papers written by Professor David Pichaske's students at Southwest Minnesota State University after they toured the museum.

“To my surprise, I was simply amazed by what I saw during my next two hours," one of them wrote.

Some of the other comments: “It is difficult to grasp how much time was consumed doing chores in the past as compared with how it is today, when we let machines do all the work.”

“It’s insane to think about feeding all those men until the entire crop had been harvested.”

“Realizing that people actually used these tools and other things to do daily activities boggled my mind.”

If you can get college students to set aside their cell phones, get off Facebook and react like that, you've done something significant.

And the museum has. A 30th anniversary, in the face of rural decline, is quite an achievement. You have shown that, with commitment and hard work, the prairie is still capable of producing some very good things — a lesson for us all, and proof this area is still worth believing in.


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