Itasca-area communities selected for Blandin Foundation initiative

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – Blandin Foundation announced today that it has accepted applications from the communities of Bovey and Northome to participate in Growing Communities, an intensive, 18-month visioning and action planning initiative through University of Minnesota Extension.

“These communities each have demonstrated high levels of engagement and a commitment to work across sectors and socio-demographic differences,” said Kathy Annette, Blandin Foundation president and CEO. “We are excited to see where Northome and Bovey take this opportunity.”

The idea of bringing in the Growing Communities initiative grew out of local listening sessions over the past several years hosted by Annette. At these sessions, community leaders shared what they see as their opportunities, challenges and assets.

“Community leaders told us time and again how much they valued space and time to talk about where their community is headed,” Annette said. “It was clear: rural communities are eager to keep the conversation going. These leaders can use the tools available through Growing Communities to design and claim the vibrant, resilient futures they spoke so passionately about at these gatherings.”

An invitation to apply for the Growing Communities initiative was issued among Itasca County-area communities this spring.

How Growing Communities will work

With coaching and education from University of Minnesota Extension community educators, community members will work through a process to define their community’s assets and resources, surface insights that will contribute to a long-range community vision and strengthen networks across the community that can be activated to accomplish an action plan grounded in the vision.

“Extension’s community educators bring the right mix of expertise for the program,” said Wade Fauth, Blandin Foundation vice president. “Their passion for the rural communities they live and work in every day is clear, and their approach to training community leaders dovetails well with our community leadership training program.”

Blandin Foundation is covering all costs for the program. Communities, led by local leadership teams, will invest in the effort through their time learning, holding conversations and developing plans.  University of Minnesota Extension will provide technical expertise and facilitation.

For more information in Bovey, contact Nancilyn Meyer at 218-259-6028, and in Northome, contact Greta Nelson at 218-897-5762.