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Avian flu: Public forum at 3 p.m. Saturday in Willmar with Dayton, other lawmakers

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High school arts teacher Tamara Isfeld found people willing to help and offer their ideas for a community-wide arts project she is helping to lead. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

Those with community ideas given a forum to share them

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

GRANITE FALLS -- Entrepreneur Sunny Ruthchild of Walnut Grove wants to open a community kitchen where local food producers can process their foods and realize value-added earnings.

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Brian Schulz, director of the Yellow Medicine County Historical Society, believes that we are waiting too long to instill in our children a sense of place and identity.

He wants to develop curriculum that would allow teachers to begin introducing the unique history and landscape of southwestern Minnesota to children in first, second and third grades, rather than waiting until they reach the sixth grade.

Ruthchild and Schulz found they were not alone in their aspirations. Nor are they without help, thanks to a "Listening Session'' Aug. 6 in Granite Falls.

The session brought more than 30 people together to discuss their ideas on promoting sustainable development in the region. Participants came from New Ulm to north of Fergus Falls for the opportunity.

They offered ideas ranging from breathing new life into a proposal for a Minnesota River Valley recreation trail to promoting local arts projects and introducing the GreenSteps initiative to local governments.

Each idea attracted a group of people willing to take on the challenges.

The session marked the second round of citizen-input meetings being hosted by Clean Up the River Environment with support from the Rockefeller Family Foundation throughout the region.

The next session will be Aug. 21 in Willmar.

The floor at all of the sessions is always open for ideas, said Duane Ninneman of CURE.

He said one of the overall goals is to connect people who are interested in similar goals, or have experience in them.

The sessions also serve to introduce successful ideas and projects to new people and locations.

"Our rural towns tend to talk about their problems when they get together, when they should be talking about their successes,'' said Ninneman.

The session in Willmar will begin with a free meal at 5 p.m. at Bethel Lutheran Church. Participants should register by Aug. 20 by emailing sarina@cureriver.org or by calling 877-269-2873.

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