Guest Column: The future starts today for our communities, and it comes from all of us
Our communities are strongest when all people can fully participate in southwest Minnesota’s opportunities and feel like they belong.
HUTCHINSON — Our second grandson joined the family last fall. I have a photo of my mom holding him at six weeks, and it makes me think about the 86 years separating them. My mom started hospice at the end of last year, and she passed away Jan. 2. Reflecting on how one journey is starting as another ends, I keep wondering what my little grandson’s world will be like 86 years from now. What is the future I want for him? And what am I willing to do to get there?
Those are questions I’m carrying with me into this New Year. When 2021 started, I thought maybe the worst was behind us. I couldn’t have imagined what we’d still be dealing with 12 months later. I have no illusions about 2022. This year will bring us challenges and hard conversations. But if we listen carefully to each other, there is so much more we can understand about how to make sure our whole community keeps getting stronger.
The beauty of our community foundation and the wonderful thing about our small towns is we have this long history of coming together. When we started the work of Grow Our Own six years ago, people came together to work toward closing the opportunity gap for our kids.
But the pandemic and its aftermath have created and deepened hardships that are testing our ability to care for each other. If we don’t work together now to make sure that all kids and families have what they need to feel secure and part of the community, we’ll lose the very thing that we love about the place we call home. It’s our kindness, determination and collaborative spirit that draws us together and surrounds us when times are tough.
Let’s start this year with a commitment to invest our attention and energy where we can really have an impact — at the local level. Our cities and towns are filled with innovative and caring people. We have great jobs, employers, schools. We are surrounded by beautiful landscapes and natural resources. Possibilities are endless. We all want this to be a place where communities, businesses and families can prosper.
Our communities are strongest when all people can fully participate in southwest Minnesota’s opportunities and feel like they belong. To reach that vision, we need to ensure that all of our kids and families are set up for success.
At the foundation, we recognize the connection between economic and social growth, and we are positioned to bring the right resources, people and inspiration together to ensure the future is a bright one. Right now, we are welcoming two new positions that will serve our nonprofits, schools, kids and families. I’m really excited to bring a Rural Equity Specialist and a Youth and Family Specialist onboard and what that additional support will mean for the region.
We are choosing hope. Hope for a brighter future. Since our founding, Southwest Initiative Foundation has had an eye toward the future, while also responding to the most immediate needs of today. In 86 years, what do we want things to look like for our families and communities? And what are we willing to do to get there?
The future starts today. And it comes from all of us. Together, we can make it one of hope, prosperity and belonging.
Diana Anderson is President & CEO of Southwest Initiative Foundation, a nonprofit community foundation connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities to create a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive.