By Heidi Marttila-Losure
All residents who live within the boundaries of the Frederick Area School District, including the communities of Barnard, Elm Lake, Frederick and Westport, are invited to attend a Community Gathering from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, at the school. The event is intended to be the starting point for a wave of positive action in our communities—a way for these four communities, which are already are tied together through the investment in the education of our children, to become stronger together.
The key part to making it work? Making sure enough people show up. And by “enough people,” we mean YOU.
Here are 12 reasons to come to the gathering (and bring a friend, or five!):
- There will be food. (That’s really the only reason some of you need.)
- Children’s activities will be provided. Bring the kids!
- We’ll be between football and basketball seasons. There shouldn’t be conflicts with local games.
- Harvest should be done, or nearly so, and deer hunting season won’t have started yet. Some of you will be antsy and looking for something to do anyway.
- There could be a free T-shirt in it for you. The first 100 people who arrive get a free T-shirt with the “Rise Up and Raise the Bar” logo on it. Show up early!
- Success in communities just like ours started with a gathering like this. Dakota Resources, a nonprofit based in Renner, S.D., has shared its coaching skills and resource connections in many rural S.D. communities, and the successes of those communities since they started working with Dakota Resources are impressive: New housing, the hiring of an economic development director, more and stronger local businesses, more community involvement from youth, stronger leadership and better connections in the community are some examples. Getting people together to talk about the kind of future they want for their communities is where these kinds of successes begin.
- Our efforts will shape our future. The name that the core team came up with for this effort is “Rise Up and Raise the Bar.” Do we want to be satisfied with whatever future will arrive without effort (and, knowing the challenges that small communities like ours are facing, it may well not be as bright as today), or do we want to actively shape a better future? If we set goals that are too low, or don’t set goals at all, we risk leaving our children a future that is not as good as it could or should be.
- There’s a power in bringing people together. If you’ve ever been part of a choir, or a sports team that’s really in sync, you know that a group of people can be greater than the sum of its parts. Two people with half a great idea each can create something that neither one could have accomplished alone. One person’s weaknesses can be balanced by another’s strengths. A crazy, out-there idea by one person can be made more practical by another—or proved to work with someone else’s talents.
- Communities can do more working together than we can alone. One goal of this project is helping residents of Barnard, Elm Lake, Frederick and Westport see one another as neighbors in the school district. By seeing ourselves as part of one larger community, and working together based on that assumption, we can accomplish bigger things.
- It feels good to have conversations about things that matter. In a time when surface-only communication is so common, people are hungry for more authentic connections. This is an opportunity to take the conversation a little deeper.
- Yes, something will happen after this. If you’re concerned that this is going to be just another meeting when there’s a lot of talk but little actually happens, rest assured that pursuing wise action after this event is the goal. And that’s what has happened in other communities that have gone through this process.
- We need your voice in the conversation. We all have a unique view of life in this community. Hearing from as many of the area’s residents as possible means we’ll come up with initiatives that are responding to real needs, are higher quality in general, and that are more likely to succeed. Your input can help make amazing things happen.
Please make plans to attend—put “Rise Up and Raise the Bar” Community Gathering on your calendar today!