Article by: Mary Kennedy and Marty Walsh
The City of Grand Meadow, MN has been awarded $6,300 from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) for a series of events to build Civic Engagement. The Grant was written by CEDA’s Marty Walsh, based on input from a public listening session that was held as part of participation in the Greater Minnesota Future’s Project (GMFP). (Grand Meadow applied for and was admitted to the GMFP in partnership with Southern Minnesota Together and the University of Minnesota Design Center last year).
The public meeting and other work undertaken by the GMFP Steering Committee found that Civic Engagement was one of the biggest challenges facing the community, and that while the community is tight knit, there are limited opportunities for newcomers to the community to meet people. Additionally, many people were not aware of how to participate in City boards and commissions.
The SMIF Grant will pay for three events repeated quarterly throughout one year:
– Newcomers Dinners: Residents new to the community in the last five years will be invited to a free dinner to meet other newcomers and long term residents who have volunteered to welcome new people and families.
– Game Nights: All community residents will be invited to participate, with special invitations extended to seniors and youth. City staff, paid through the grant, will help facilitate conversation and build new relationships.
– Community Grant Nights: These nights will allow the City to leverage funds from the One Time Exemption use of Department of Employment and Economic Development Loan Funds that the City will be converting to general use dollars. The City Council is allocating $20,000 for a citizen led committee to further distribute to Citizen projects that improve the community.
All the events will include updates on various City committees and encourage participation in more community events.