On Feb. 27, individuals who volunteered to serve their communities on the Welcoming Communities Project met at the Event Center.

At the Jan. 29 meeting for the Welcoming Communities Project, those in attendance from Sleepy Eye, Springfield, and New Ulm were asked to apply as individuals, for the next phase of the project — separate town groups that will identify projects or initiatives for their own town. Applicants were asked to commit to attending monthly meetings, through May, and be active with the project.

On Feb. 27, those individuals who volunteered to serve their communities on the Welcoming Communities Project, met again at the Sleepy Eye Event Center.

The facilitators — from Region Nine, the Greater Mankato Diversity Council, and U of M Extension — led the group through a few activities and discussions about the power of people working together, active and compassionate listening, and some information on area demographics.

Participants from the three communities mixed together for this meeting. The next step in the process will involve each town working on their own ideas. Each community was asked to hold a local meeting to determine their group norms — a working agreement.

Then the entire group will meet again on March 26 and begin more work as individual communities.

A good overview of the Welcoming Communities Project was included in the materials at the Feb. 27 meeting:

•To build capacity in individuals and in communities to respond to local community equity and inclusion needs.

•To engage in community identity exploration.

•To provide a platform for education and resources.

•To share, examine, and explore inclusive and equitable best practices and ideas targeted to small communities.

Watch for continuing news and feature stories in the Herald-Dispatch related to the Welcoming Communities Project.

The Welcoming Communities Project in Brown County was made possible through a grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation’s Healthy Connections Program to Region Nine Area, Inc.