By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN The chance to “unlock Delano’s treasures” is here, with a large community visioning session planned for Sunday, May 31 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Tiger Activity Center.
“In order for Delano to stay strong and for any project to succeed, we need the community to be behind it, so this visioning session is important,” said Dream Team II President Chris Brazelton.
The community is encouraged to attend the session, which includes a free meal, door prizes, and child care offerings, and is sponsored through a grant from the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls.
A group of Delano residents learned at the end of February 2009, their efforts were successful in obtaining a development grant from the Initiative Foundation.
Since that time, locally, a Dream Team II board has been formed and includes Brazelton as president, vice president Harlan Lewis, treasurer Betsy Stolfa, secretary Ryan Gueningsman, and members-at-large Carley Boll and Diane Johnson. The board, as well as a core committee of volunteers, has been working to plan Sunday’s session.
As part of the grant program, Delano has received $10,000 for planning, and then will be eligible for an additional grant of up to $10,000 per year for implementation of community projects over the following four years.
A $100,000 Bush Foundation grant recently awarded to the Initiative Foundation of Little Falls will go toward assisting Delano and three other cities as they rally residents to improve their community and local economy.
The core group of local volunteers have been putting in hours of time and effort to make the visioning session a success and get as large of turnout as possible, Brazelton noted.
“We hope to have a huge turn out at the visioning session because we don’t want to proceed with any projects that don’t have the backing of the larger community,” she said. “We’re excited to have a core group of dedicated community members moving this plan forward. It’s so important that we work on things that the community is excited about and that are the priority of the community and not just a handful of people.”
Brazelton said invitations have been sent to local elected officials, area boards, and organizations, and she said the committee is attempting to reach as many people as possible.
“I want people to know we’re working very, very hard to make sure everyone who wants to have input knows about it,” Brazelton said.
From her own past experiences, Brazelton said good ideas feed off of each other, and the larger the group, the more positive ideas will come out of it.
“We wanted to let people know they have the opportunity to voice their opinions in how they’d like to see Delano grow,” Lewis said.
The visioning session will consist of a dinner, a brief background on what the Initiative Foundation is, a welcome from Mayor Joe McDonald, a brief demographic presentation on the Delano area, and then small-group brainstorming sessions
“Then, they’ll take all the ideas that came out in brainstorming, and as a group, people are going to pick their priorities,” Brazelton said. From there, it will be broken down to the top 10 ideas, and the core committee will work with the Initiative Foundation to determine what projects are viable and can be pursued moving into the future.
Brazelton noted that from the last Dream Team experience, some ideas hatched from the visioning session and were brought forward outside of the Dream Team.
“You can’t keep a good idea down,” Brazelton said. “I hope people stop and think about where Delano will be in the next five to 10 to 20 years. We’ve got a great town, but we might be missing a few things. We want to continue to be a great place to live, work, and raise families.”
Timeline for the grant
The timeline will include local monthly meetings, as well as Initiative Foundation training sessions that 15 to 20 people will have to commit to, and the visioning meeting and planning sessions. The plan includes:
• Sunday, May 31 - community visioning meeting in Delano;
• July/August - community goal setting in Delano;
• September - action planning meeting in Delano;
• September 2010 - annual community meeting in Delano.
Not the first time Delano has received such a grant
In 2000, the “Delano Dream Team” hosted a similar community visioning session that identified three top initiatives of the community to expand Common Grounds’ youth outreach program, the beautification of downtown, and improved visability and accessibility of area parks and green space.
Projects that came from the Dream Team include the annual river clean up, the city’s adopt-a-pot program, Paint the Town, and a Sunday brunch community fundraiser, among other things.
The newly-awarded grant will provide an opportunity to bring people together and focus on common goals as was done in 2000, commented Delano resident Dale Vander Linden, who is involved with the grant.
“The purpose of the grant is to develop the framework needed to ascertain the priority of projects that the community desires,” Vander Linden said. “The grant proceeds are not for any particular capital projects, but for conceptualization of the needs.”
About the Initiative Foundation
Based in Little Falls and serving central Minnesota’s 14 counties, the Initiative Foundation offers loans to businesses, grants to non-profits, and a variety of leadership programs that enable citizens to build stronger communities.
Through its leadership programs, the foundation has provided training to 4,262 community leaders, representing over 420 community groups and organizations, since 1986.
The Bush Foundation, which is providing the funds for the Initiative Foundation’s Healthy Communities Partnership, (HCP) was established in 1953, by 3M executive, Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth.
The foundation strives to be a catalyst to shape vibrant communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota by investing in courageous and effective leadership that significantly strengthens and improves the well-being of people in these three states.
“We’re thrilled to receive continued support from the Bush Foundation,” Initiative Foundation program manager for community development Dan Frank said. “These teams will now be able to make some huge strides toward building a better future for their communities.”
Dream Team II visioning session Sunday, May 31
The Delano Dream Team II’s visioning session is set for Sunday, May 31 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Tiger Activity Center at the Delano High School.
The event will feature free food and door prizes. Free child care and transportation are also available. Call (763) 972-6210 by Tuesday, May 26 to register for these services.