Congratulations to the Kiwanis and the Popcorn Stand for bringing such great attention to Granite Falls and with a visit from WCCO's "Finding Minnesota." The popcorn stand is a great asset for our community, thank you to all the volunteers who keep it open every evening!

I met last week with David Fluegel from the Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership. There are five regions in Minnesota which are part of the University of Minnesota Extension. David is located in Morris and has chosen Granite Falls as the location for a state wide conference in July. This organization supports sustainable development projects and connects local ideas and innovation to the University of Minnesota resources. I'm excited to learn about the projects they work on and to show off Granite Falls to this group from all areas of the state.

The meetings will be held in various locations, the K.K. Berge building where the Granite Area Arts Council has agreed to close the gallery for the afternoon, the American Legion or Pioneer Public TV's new community space and a Minnesota River canoe trip that will end up with a meal at Upper Sioux Agency State Park. A local foods menu is planned for the meals. Check out what they do on their facebook page. www.facebook. com/UofMNExtRSDP/

The University of Morris also partners with the Center for Small Towns which is a community outreach program that serves as a point of entry to the resources of the University of Minnesota. Small towns, local units of government, K-12 schools, nonprofit organizations, and other University units are able to utilize CST’s resources as they work on rural issues or make contributions to rural society.

This organization uses college students for internships to help communities solve problems and has completed important research on rural issues. I've worked with some of these interns on various projects including the Yellow Medicine housing survey, Prairie Waters and the Get Rural Project. They host the Rural Arts and Culture Summit on June 7 and 8 which I'll be attending. This is sponsored also by Springboard for the Arts and Forum for Regional Arts Councils. A grant from the Southwest Minn. Arts Council covers my expenses, thank you for that and is also funding our Riverside Market and Muse again this summer.

Anyone can attend this and grants are still available until May 30. The arts are a great way to revitalize rural communities and we have a great start with the Granite Area Arts Council, Meander, YME events and this August’s' Sod House Theater production of An Enemy of the People.