We are borrowing our title from the late Senator Wellstone and applying it to small communities in Minnesota, we think he wouldn’t mind. What began as a thank-you to the Gammelgarden Museum for inviting us to hold classes in Scandia this winter has turned into some thoughts about the importance of rural organizations working together for the good of their communities.
Lynne Moratzka, executive director, uses the museum’s mission as the basis for all decisions, but in addition she sees the importance of working together, not competing but complementing and supporting other local organizations. Leaders in outstate Minnesota understand there are limited resources, in terms of people, volunteer time and financial resources. By being creative and working together, Lynne and other local leaders understand more can be accomplished through collaboration and partnerships.
Photo Credit: Carl Wegener
This approach fits with the folk school movement, which emphasizes collaboration and joint learning. We’ve experienced first-hand that communities are strengthened through collaboration. Our organization was founded to help strengthen our local area through providing opportunities for local artists to teach, by bringing visitors to the area, and by helping provide learning opportunities for students of all ages. Luckily for us, our neighbors at River Grove Community School and May Township also believed in collaboration, permitting us to open at Wilder Forest. We’ve observed other private and public partnerships working to strengthen local communities, such as the work by our local city to purchase an empty school building, for the eventual use by the River Grove school. These examples and more convince us of the benefits of collaborative partnerships. Not only do our students thrive in the beautiful classroom at Gammelgarden, but the bonds between our two rural communities of Scandia and Marine on St. Croix are strengthened.
Photo Credit: Gammelgarden Museum