On Tuesday, the Blandin Foundation gathered a group of community leaders and members from Redwood Falls and the Lower Sioux to talk about what ails us.
This was a little experiment of sorts. Back in December, representatives from the Blandin Foundation held little group conversations with each group separately.
The Redwood Falls group gathered at the RACC and sat at tables. Before us were some strangers, some acquaintances, maybe some friends. On the table were large pieces of paper and coloring pens.
None of us knew what to expect.
We were going to have a conversation, the leader explained, and then your going to share with everyone your top three points, and then you’re going to switch to a different table so you can hear different perspectives.
I can’t remember exactly what the questions were, but I remember being surprised that, for the most part, people said the same things.
Then they did the same thing, with the same questions, on a different day, with different people from the Lower Sioux.
Now, some weeks later, we were all going to meet and do it again.
The leader explained that, overall, when the Redwood folks answered the questions and found solutions, our focus was economics and industry.
The Lower Sioux’s focus was on community and people.
(I’m paraphrasing here, because I was there as a participant, not a reporter.)
Sitting together we were faced with new questions. How do you communicate effectively? What would you do to bridge the two communities? Where should we go from here?
There really is something amazing about getting a group of diverse individuals together to solve problems. Some people are quiet (not me), some people are pushy (probably me, but I really try to fight against my nature in this regards.)
Some people bring with ideas and opinions, some people quietly listening and the will surprise you with insightful follow-up later.
This, my friends, is the beauty of people. We are all a big, messy group of differences and commonalities.
I hope, as we move forward in the experiment of bridging the way between these two sister communities, we can take these groups and make some amazing things happen.