Local communities aim to tackle racism, create growing communities

Some local communities have leaders ready and willing to tackle local racism.

Tri-City United, Waseca and St. Peter Public Schools brought “It’s Time to Talk,” a community conversation about race through their Community Education departments, in 2017. They were organized by Region Nine Development Commission with partners YWCA Mankato and Greater Mankato Diversity Council.

But both organizers and participants said those conversations should not be the end.

“We were hearing from communities that there are not a lot of resources available for small communities to learn and talk about changing community demographics, what does that mean socially and economically and how can we continue to be a vibrant and growing community,” said Jessica O’Brien, community engagement manager.

So the commission collaborated with Greater Mankato Diversity Council and the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality to create a seven-time monthly educational event. The series, called the Rural Equity Learning Community, wrapped up in October. But participants said the hours of education, activities and relationship-building will stick with them.

“One of the biggest lessons was how big my network is now,” said Keri Johnson of St. Peter. “We all have a different role to play and we’re all linked together so this is a way to expand our impact. By connecting with other people, that will make everything we’re trying to do seem more possible.”

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