Now that winter has settled into the region and there is an ever-present chill in the air, once again it is time to give a quick update about what I have been doing and give space for input and feedback from the community.

Firstly, the “Take & Make” program that I mentioned in my last column is more certain now. So if you have any ideas for what you would like to see as a children’s or an adult’s craft, let me know. As a reminder, this program will be kits that you can come pick up from Wadena City Library once a month and take to complete the crafts inside with your kids or by yourself.

And secondly, if you have any ideas about public art in town, such as which puzzle murals you would like to see restored, places you think would be suitable for a piece of artwork, or project ideas in general, contact me!

For the rest of this column, I would like to highlight two things: the creativity I see in town and a question.

There are many places in Wadena where one can see the touch of creativity. There are traditionally artistic businesses in town, such as Art Bar 39, Creative Friends and Fine Art Backdrops; and others which require a great degree of creativity but are not always seen as artistic, such as Owly Bean Roasters, Make Me Wine, Little Round Still and Drastic Measures. And not only these businesses are creative—the list could go on and on—because artistry and creativity are not only about the fine arts but a way of thinking. These businesses are part of what makes Wadena a place where the arts could thrive.

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RELATED ARTICLE: The Creative Corner: Making Wadena a creative destination

Additionally, there are organizations here that demonstrate the creative abilities the community has. Organizations like Madhatters Community Theatre, the Wadena Area Community Band, the Wadena Area Concert Association, and nearby organizations which include Wadena residents like the Staples Area Men’s Chorus, all serve as outlets for the artistic energy that the community holds.

Moreover, there are many people who show off their talents individually. Some are artists by trade, who can show their work in galleries in other towns, or who may have a few of their pieces up and around town. There are those who take their crafts to festivals like Salsa Fest and the Christmas Festival, and people who sell delicious jellies, baked goods and other crafted goods at farmers markets, like the first annual Winter Farmers Market that happened on Dec. 11.

There are the murals around town, the sculptures in Burlington Northern Park and a beautiful nature preserve filled with art at Green Island, all which physically mark the town as a place where the people appreciate their culture and their art. So here is the question: why is there not more? The community is creative, so why not show the rest of the region what Wadena is made of?

You can send me an email at

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