What makes Wadena a great place to live? There are many factors that contribute to the overall quality of life here in Wadena—quality healthcare, good broadband access and a community that is continuing to thrive and support one another. However, there are other ways to further improve the quality of life here in the town.

The people here are bursting with ideas and creativity, and investing more in those ideas and that creativity can make this vibrant community shine even more than it already does. In my position focused on artisan development, it is important to hear from the community about where their priorities are and how we can utilize the talents of the region to make Wadena a place where its art and culture bring in just as many people as any lake would, while increasing the opportunities for its residents.

Lillian Norman, Lead for Minnesota fellow in Wadena with a focus on artisan based economic development.
Contributed / Lillian Norman, 2021
Lillian Norman, Lead for Minnesota fellow in Wadena with a focus on artisan based economic development. Contributed / Lillian Norman, 2021

This column will be a place where I will talk about what I have learned, what I have been working on and another place to hear from the community. While I plan to host monthly meetings open to the public to collaborate, connect and pursue the goal of making Wadena a creative destination, not everyone will have the energy or time to attend them even though they may have valuable insights and opinions, which is why this will be a good opportunity to hear from those people.

In this first foray into this column, I have included a list of questions that I would love to hear back from the community on. Not all of these questions have a direct connection to art or artisan development and do not feel limited in your answers to those topics. Just like any tool, creativity and the arts can be used to tackle many different problems.

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  1. If you had a magic wand, what would you like to see happen in Wadena?

    1. Why isn’t this happening already?

    2. What are potential solutions to make it happen?

  2. What are some exciting past projects?

    1. Who made it happen?

    2. Who was included in the design process? Who wasn’t?

    3. How did you find out about it?

    4. What worked about this project? What didn’t?

  3. How do you think that other people in the community would view integrating more art into Wadena?

  4. What do you think would encourage people to participate in their community, especially as it relates to making Wadena a home to the arts?

  5. What do you think are some barriers keeping people from pursuing creative business or endeavors in Wadena?

  6. Is there any project that you would be opposed to happening in Wadena?

If you have the time, email me your answers at norma385@umn.edu. Additionally, contact me if you have any interest in talking about your ideas further or if you have any interest in joining a group focused on cultivating the arts here in Wadena.

Lillian Norman is a fellow with Lead for Minnesota serving the city of Wadena on artisan economic development.