28 March 2011

three words and one answer.

Windom State Theatre. 

I know you are all wondering, how, why, and when. How being "How did we let it get this way?" Why being "Why didn't we do something sooner?" and When being "When is something going to be done about that eye sore?"  Folks, I may not know the answer to the first 2 questions, but I have an answer to the last one.  Finding Windom, along with the help of some very ambitious, talented young people (Windom--we should be very proud!) and you, of course, will be giving that theatre the time, attention and work it deserves! 

It will be a process and it will be hard work (that hasn't ever stopped us before), but we are going to be fixing that place up to look like something we can all be proud of.  Yes, this is some news from those lame past posts of mine that have just been scratching the surface of things we've been working on, but I couldn't quite tell you all about until some more details had been worked through. The suspense was killing you I'm sure.

Well, here it is, more good news for our community--we (meaning the whole community, not just Finding Windom) are going to be fixing up our Square's theatre!  I can't wait to get started, and we will soon be letting you know how you can lend a helping hand, so stay tuned. 

See, I told you good things were happening, Windom.

26 March 2011

taking it in.

Tonight I did something I've been forgetting to do for quite some time now.  I often get wrapped up in dreaming about the future or get too busy to slow down.  But, tonight, after a long day a way from home being busy again, I just took in all I could of my baby boy, Henrik.  I studied his little movements, his half white smile, his innocent curiosities.  I absorbed his belly laugh and that deep connection between us in his eyes.  I took it all in as he was in the moment.  For the first time in a long time, I wasn't wondering about what kind of person he will become in the future, I wasn't trying to teach him something that I thought he would need to know for all his days to come.  Nope, not a single thought about the future...I just took him in--I enjoyed him as his one-year old self knowing that tomorrow he may be a little different.

E.B. White once said "I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world.  This makes it hard to plan the day." I couldn't be torn more by anything else right now.  Just as I need to remember to take in Henrik as he is and to stop always planning my every move as a parent to be sure he grows into his own beautiful person, I need to remember to take in all the beauty of my community as it is today.  I have such high hopes and see such potential in Windom's future, but I also need to remember why I started this journey in the first place...because Windom is a beautiful place to be right now in this moment.

25 March 2011


I have been doing a lot of research and reading lately--all great material and examples of ways to develop communities--I will continue to share my findings via blogging.  Not only have I been reading some great material, but the amount of tangible resources I was begging and pleading for in my very first and second posts have come into light. Hallelujah.

I think I have stated numerous times in past posts about the amount of potential we have as a community to develop and progress--well, it is why I started this journey and continue along in my merry ways.  Time will not tell, time will show.

I'm looking forward to our summer months for things to spring forth as new. 

Next week, I'm attending a conference in Sioux Falls and rural progression will be the hot topic at the conference.  More ideas, more inspiration, more resources coming our way. I can't wait!

22 March 2011

21 March 2011

dam proud.

The day finally arrived, and it only took 4 years.  So, yes, the title is definately pun intended. On March 15th, 2011, the Windom City Council made a historic decision for the future of Windom--they made the decision to take out the dam that has graced our part of the Des Moines River.  I wasn't rooting for a specific answer, but an answer was all I needed to be satisfied.  We all knew one way or the other, there would be disappointment, people upset, but a decision needed to be made.  We can finally move forward, and it is a great step for the Windom community.  Now what's next?  We need to keep making more decisions to continue progressing...

It's really wonderful to wake up in a city where every day you realize that today the city is a little bit better than yesterday.  -Jan Gehl, Danish Architect

17 March 2011

spreading the word starts now.

The support local campaign is starting now.  Start talking about it!  Support local, support your community and let's be the little city that would! 

Here is my new article on Minnesota 2020 regarding our campaign, "the little city that would." 


Show your local support by purchasing a non-adhesive window decal with the campaign's logo for only $3!!  Get yours at Frank's Shoe Repair.  Stay tuned for more places you can purchase your very own "the little city that would" decal.

Finding Windom will also be selling promotional support local kits for our local businesses and organizations for only $10.  These kits include window decals, a poster, welcome letter, top ten reasons to be a local supporter and the rights to use the logo and slogan for any advertising purposes they see fit.  Along with the promotional kit, the Citizen is offering reduced rate advertising for those who buy a promotional kit.

15 March 2011

burning question.

I'm in one of those let's-be-honest moods. I just want to know the answer to an honest question that has been on my mind for quite sometime now.  Ready?  No, "ready" isn't the real question.  The real question is: why are there no loitering signs on our courthouse lawn?  The last time I checked, the courthouse is one of the most appealing, identifiable and picturesque places in Windom, so why can't I just sit and enjoy it once in awhile?  There are benches on the courthouse lawn, and benches automatically create a sense of place, but these benches are juxtaposed by the same amount of  no loitering sign.  You are hearing me correctly for those of you who have never seen the benches and the signs--they are there and they share a space.  In the words of Alanis Morsette, "isn't it ironic?"  I'm jealous of Larry Buhler, he is the only one who gets to loiter on our courthouse square--maybe that is why he is always smiling?

Opposites do not attract in this case.  Benches and no-loitering signs, benches and no-loitering signs, hmmm. It is a bit comedic, don't you think?  I'm sure Jay Leno would love to see a picture of this.  It's like putting a no parking sign in a parking lot or a don't touch the animals sign in a petting zoo.  Doesn't seem to make much sense to me.  I realize there probably was a very good reason as to why the signs went up, but I think it is time to reconsider and take a look at it again.

After all, according to the book The Great Neighborhood Book, "a key ingredient to lively, safe, fun neighborhoods is public spaces where people gather.  People out in the streets bring a community magically alive. You get to know your neighbors, you feel secure, and you have a place to hang out.  And there's one simple way to do this: give everyone a spot to sit down.  A bench or chairs can transform a lonely space into a lively place.  People out walking or out shopping will stop to rest their legs.  Others will then sit down, and conversations will arise.  Soon people will make a point of heading there, knowing they will find company."

Benches: such a simple, inviting concept.  Kind of fits Finding Windom's mission: WELCOME to WINDOM, ENJOY, SIT and STAY AWHILE.

13 March 2011

ears ringing, windom?

It's Sunday...again.  Where do the days go?  It's been a busy week and when I say busy, I mean fun-filled talking about Windom.  There have been all kinds of opportunities and resources just falling into our Finding Windom lap, and it is awesome.  Never a dull moment when your trying to find your city's potential because potential is everywhere!

Also, the support local campaign, The little city that would, is starting to finally come to life.  We can't wait to share some things we've been up to in the little city that would.   We will be offering decals and 11X17 posters with the little city that would logo so you can show your support.  Watch for details on how to get yours!  Materials to show your support will be available soon, so support your local support campaign and stay tuned...

10 March 2011

friday, i'm in love.

Well, everyday this week I have had a meeting regarding some sort of Finding Windom thing or have been busy making contacts, finding helpful willing resources or, well, I guess I've spent a lot of time this week just trying to make things happen.  And the next few days will be busy as well.  Even with this crazy busy week, there wasn't one time that I thought, "I've had enough.  I can't do this anymore."  I continue to love Finding Windom and all the great things that go along with living in our community. It's a great thing to see dreams come true after a little hard work and with the help of those who are just as optimistic as I am.

I can't tell you how much I believe in the idea that everything happens for a reason.  Even if the outcome wasn't exactly what you were hoping for, some way and some how, there was a good reason for it happening the way it did.  Learn from it, move forward from it and look for the next open door.  The last few months have been learning lessons for me.  I've been learning so much about myself and who I want to be as a person, a mother, a wife, a friend, a community member.  I learned the beauty of believing in something so much that there is absolutely no way it won't work.  It's true.  It's true, my friends, never give up on anything you believe in and do whatever it takes to see it happen.  There are no limits and don't let anyone ever tell you different. 

We are going places, Windom!  Believe it!

08 March 2011

whistle while you work.

Well folks, the Finding Windom train is still moving.  We are making headway to improve our community to find its true potential.  We are working on some great things that are very exciting for us and hopefully just as exciting for the community.  Watch for more details because there will be a lot coming your way in the next few months! 

Summer, believe it or not, will be here before you know it and with summer comes wonderful things.

I'm going to keep this short because I've got lots of Finding Windom work to do!

03 March 2011

the "r" word.

A year ago today, my life changed completely.  It was a change that I, or anyone I would imagine, could not be entirely prepared for in only 9 months, heck I still don't feel properly prepared.  Yes, one year ago today was the day we were blessed with our son, Henrik.  Well, I'm not going to continue to tell you the mushy story you've heard a million times, "When I had my baby, it was the best day of my life," blah, blah, blah...Nope, I'm going to tell you the truth...the cold, hard truth...my life changed because I took a risk. 

The risk wasn't neccessarily all the responsibility of taking care of another human being or knowing it is entirely up to you to make sure this little person gets all of the tender loving care and experiences to grow into a respectable member of society, but the idea of knowing my life would completely change was the true risk for me.  Okay, the risk was all the above, and I knew it was going to be hard.

I don't know how this is supposed to go, but for my husband and me, deciding to take the plunge to have a baby was a scary thing.  We were risking our comfort, financially and socially, we were risking our prized so-called youth, our selfishness, and our emotions to bring this child into the world, well the list continues.

Man, I make having a child sound delightful, don't I?  **enter sarcasm here** Well, let me get to my point.  A year later, as hard as the road has been and will continue to be during this raising a child thing, I couldn't imagine my life without this little guy.  All the wonderful things he brings to my life regardless of all the things that were so scary for me.  What was life before this little guy?  I don't remember. 

So it got me thinking about Windom--imagine that.  As I dig deeper and deeper into this journey I have committed myself to and deeper into the workings of the city and economics and history and business, what if we stopped taking risks?  Risk starts businesses, risk keeps the economy going round, risk creates a community.  Risk fills empty buildings, creates jobs and gives us hope for a future.

We have all taken risks, some of them became failures and some became successes, but we cannot let the unknown, the fear, and the hard work stop us from taking risks.

Today I got to celebrate the 1st birthday of one of my greatest fears and greatest successes, and it felt good.

02 March 2011

facts to prove it.

This was a recent press release that was published by The New Rules Project (http://www.newrules.org/). 

This is very exciting and all the more reason to be "The little city that would"!

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (Jan. 26, 2011) – For the fourth year in a row, a national survey of independent businesses has found that those in communities with an active "buy local" campaign have experienced markedly stronger revenue growth compared to those located in areas without such a campaign.

The survey, which was conducted over an 8-day period in January, gathered data from 2,768 independent businesses, including retailers, service providers, restaurants and others. It found that those in places with a "buy local" initiative reported revenue growth of 5.6% on average in 2010, compared to 2.1% for those elsewhere.

Among independent retailers, which accounted for nearly half the respondents, there was a similar gap in holiday sales performance, with those in "buy local" communities seeing a 5.2% increase in holiday sales, while those elsewhere reported an average gain of 0.8%.

"Buy local" campaigns run by Independent Business Alliances and Local First groups are now underway in about 140 cities nationwide.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that public awareness of the benefits of supporting locally owned businesses had increased in the last year, while 24% said it had stayed the same and only 3% said it had decreased.

Business owners in cities with active "buy local" campaigns reported a wide range of positive impacts on their business. Almost half reported that the campaign had brought new customers to their business and 55% said it had made existing customers more loyal. More than two-thirds said local media coverage of independent businesses had increased and 51% said that local government officials were now more aware and supportive of the needs of independent businesses.

Comments from survey participants highlighted key challenges facing independent businesses, including the weak economy and government policies that often favor their large competitors. Yet businesses active in "buy local" initiatives repeatedly cited these efforts as making a difference in their survival and success. "It is abundantly clear to me that a greater percentage of the public is attuned to the value of supporting local independents compared to just a couple years ago," noted one Arizona business owner.

The survey was conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit research and educational organization, in partnership with dozens of national and local business organizations, including the American Booksellers Association, Alliance of Independent Media Stores, American Independent Business Alliance, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, National Bicycle Dealers Association, and TriMega Purchasing Association.
Similar surveys over the last three years likewise found that independent businesses in cities with active "buy local" campaigns reported stronger sales gains than those in communities without such initiatives.

"This survey adds to the growing body of evidence that people are increasingly seeking out independent businesses and that shift is having a tangible impact on the bottom line," said Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

"For the fourth year in a row, independent retailers in communities with active 'shop local' campaigns have shown stronger sales than retailers in communities without such campaigns," said American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher. "More and more shoppers are voting in favor of independent retailers with their spending, proving that they recognize that bigger is not always better — and making clear that they value a strong, unique, and vibrant community. The potential for locally owned businesses committed to working together could not be greater.”

"This survey offers further proof that, with sustained efforts, communities can indeed raise local consciousness and build a culture of support for local entrepreneurs," said Jennifer Rockne, executive director of the American Independent Business Alliance. "Remarkably, most of the campaigns operated by Independent Business Alliances are funded by businesses paying $20 or less per month in dues. They're getting quite a return on their investment."

“We are encouraged by the positive impact, as well as the positive change in consumer behavior our members are seeing as a result of ‘Buy Local’ campaigns,” said Michael Morris, vice president of marketing for TriMega Purchasing Association, a national buying consortium of independent office supply dealerships. “Our dealers have reported improved customer loyalty, increased awareness of their brand, and more doors being opened to them thanks to 'think local' oriented initiatives."

"Independent Business Alliances and 'buy local' campaigns are becoming a basic tool for independent businesses to help differentiate themselves from their big-box and internet competition by highlighting their meaningful connection to the community," said Kathleen McHugh, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association. "Once consumers understand why supporting local business is important to their community, they connect it to why they live where they do."

"Small, local businesses generate the majority of new jobs in the US," said Michelle Long, Executive Director of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. "Buy Local First campaigns help bring these businesses and residents together to build community health and wealth -- from the bottom up."

The New Rules Project of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance - newrules.org