A shared vision about the future of Minnesota brought together over one hundred people last Thursday evening at the Maynard Community Event Center in an event co-hosted by two local non-profit organizations: CURE and the Land Stewardship Project (LSP).

Many people living in rural areas might feel that their voices are not being heard and that their needs are not being addressed on the political landscape. The goal of the CURE and LSP collaboration, which is part of a larger “Our Minnesota Future” effort happening around the state, is for people to tell their own stories based on shared values to build the power to govern, and champion a ‘people’s agenda’ for Minnesota.

Music and stories kicked off the event and harkened back to earlier rural organizing movements. In small group discussions, attendees talked about issues they feel need to be addressed in their communities along with their hopes. Most importantly though, folks talked about the values that underscore these issues and hopes. There was also lively debate as the whole group discussed community values upholding a shared vision for Minnesota.

Some in attendance found the meeting to be a timely forum for the community to share opinions and feelings. CURE member Darwin Dyce, Ghent, commented, “I was extremely impressed with the number of people from all over rural Minnesota that came out and expressed an interest in understanding each other and in better policies for us to respectfully walk on the earth. That was very heartening.”

This meeting was just the start of a movement for Minnesotans to take control of their story. Facilitator Andrea Fox Jensen, Litchfield, stated, “Rural America and rural Minnesota are in the public eye for a bunch of reasons. What rural Minnesota needs and want is more and more part of the public dialogue. We are getting attention and need to fill in the blanks ourselves. We have a personal sense of responsibility to do that.”

Event organizers observed that the current ‘rural reality’ narrative can sound depressing. It was a shared sentiment at the meeting that it should not be a sacrifice to live here. However, the overall tone of the gathering was hopeful, and a primary value that arose from the discussion was that “We all need each other.” The new story coming from rural Minnesotans is one of empowerment and hope, and it’s a vision for all Minnesotans.

For more information about the Our Minnesota Future movement and upcoming opportunities visit: www.cureriver.org