The Creative Corner: What should be happening here?

A newer project that should be on your radar in case it becomes reality is incorporating some artistic activities into the Farmer’s Market here in town. Whether it is listening to a band, having the opportunity to sit down and paint, making prints with the natural elements of the environment, or something else, I would love to hear from you.

A blue background with the text reading, "Norman's Creative Corner, Lead for Minnesota fellow" and a picture of a woman.
Monthly column from Lillian Norman, Lead for Minnesota fellow serving the city of Wadena.

As we grow closer to summer and its many fun and engaging activities, I have found myself thinking about where Wadena is growing as well. The town of Wadena has been blossoming throughout the years, with new people, new ideas, and a celebration of history and of the past. The main street is full and Wadena is more and more becoming a place where things are happening, a true callback to the line, “Something is happening here.” All of this and the town’s current trajectory means that going forward, it is important to consider what the community wants to happen.

There is very little reason why Wadena should not have access to any of the resources and opportunities that they desire, for any age group. Children should have the ability to explore STEAM skills, the humanities, history, culture, and more, along with adults and those further along in their lives. So, it should be known what those in the community desire to do, or may desire to learn more about. Perhaps there is potential for activities, businesses, programs, and events to spring up in the town that are not currently even on the community's radar. Looking at other towns in Minnesota, and the way that their communities have taken hold of their town’s narratives and their town’s look and feel, there may be a need to look at what the community sees as its narrative here, and what they might like the town to look like in the years to come.

Having a volunteer group of people who can help advise and plan for artistic and creative ventures in town would benefit those already involved in the arts in town, and further grow opportunities for others to engage in the future. Such a group could work towards making Wadena into a center for the arts for the years to come, helping each other and helping the area focus on creative issues that need the most attention.

Does the community like the way that the town currently looks? Or do we want murals and sculptures, artfully-designed benches, painted crosswalks, aesthetically-pleasing street signs, and fun lamposts scattered around the town? And if so, what would those look like? What would each of them celebrate? The past, present, and future of the town, or potentially the landscape around the area and its fauna? There are many possibilities, and many ways to turn those possibilities into reality, even if one is simply a resident of the town. There are many active groups of people around the town who need even more energetic members of the community who care—and if there is anything that is readily apparent about the people who live in Wadena, it is that they care about their town.

It is only food for thought, as they say. Oftentimes it only takes a few people who work hard and dream hard to make their ideas reality, and since Wadena is a place where something is happening, it pays to think about what we might want to see happen. In the future, as I have mentioned in the past, I hope to incorporate those ideas into the design of a Creative Community Plan for the city—a project that I am already ecstatic about and happy to have people working with me on.

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

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