"Thriving by Design, Rural and Urban Together," was a large scale and innovative three-day gathering at the Prairie's Edge Casino Resort co-hosted by OneMn.org and Growth & Justice. Participants and Delegates willing to carry the events mission forward, converged for three days to begin developing a comprehensive “One Minnesota Equity Blueprint, a policy agenda aimed at healing Minnesota’s divisions and ensuring more equitable economic growth” per the partner organizations statement.
Co-sponsors of the event were OneMN.org and Growth & Justice as well as multiple partnership organizations such as the Minnesota Association of Development Organizations, the League of Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota Asset Building Coalition and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Funders included the Blandin Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, and Growth & Justice individual donors. OneMn.org is a collective network of parties “working to keep Minnesota open, inclusive, innovative, and welcoming, to create shared sustainable prosperity for ALL Minnesotans” per the group, their motto is to “Stabilize, Connect, and Thrive as OneMN!”. While Growth & Justice, is a research-and-advocacy organization advocating policies lending to advancements in equitable economic growth in Minnesota.
The summit of change makers was guided by speakers and experts from across Minnesota, such as State Demographer Susan Brower who gave special expertise on our demographic and economic disparities.
The Chairman of the Upper Sioux Community Chairman, Kevin Jensvold, gave a welcome message to start the conference the afternoon of the 27, followed by an overview of an intercultural development inventory taken by the group hosted by Beth Zemsky and Joy Persall. Later the same evening Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey gave a commanding keynote address during dinner.
Diana Anderson, President of the Southwest Initiative Foundation, Craig Helmstetter, managing director of the American Public Media Research Lab, Dr. Bruce Corrie, Director of the City of St. Paul’s Planning and Economic Development and co-founder of OneMN.org and Dr. Cornelia Flora Butler were all gathered for various presentations on Thursday the 28. The day concluded with a group walk around downtown Granite Falls, guests visited the K.K. Berge Gallery, met with local artists and residents, and visited Prentice Street area sites.
Dinner for the evening was a cozy park picnic of about 100, sharing a long, “OneMn” size table. The décor, food and event planning were all locally sourced in the Granite Falls area. A performance by The Theater of Public Policy was held at Blue Nose Gopher Brewery were participants learned about the local co-op while being entertained.
Jane Leonard and Dane Smith, current and former presidents of Growth & Justice, along with Brett Buckner, the Managing Director of OneMN.org, were the primary MC’s of the event carrying the large team through an ambitious and tight schedule. Friday marked the final day of the conference where the start of an agenda was being formed to promote policies bridging the rural and urban divide, as well as support economic and social equity in the state, facilitated partly by Monica Segura-Schwartz, MAPL Policy Fellow. The gatherings last day also boasted a Gubernatorial Forum with speakers Erin Murphy and Tim Walz fielding question from the crowd after individual addresses. The event hosts from across the state spoke highly of their experience in Granite Falls and referenced the collaborative effort going forward may return to Granite Falls as a further gathering hub.