As winter gives way to spring (seriously, 40 degree weather? At least a few of you are guilty of breaking out the shorts this week), we’d like to revisit some of the ideas we’ve heard most over this past winter, while acknowledging that it’s never too early to start planning out next year’s winter activities and how we make them happen.
It’s hard to tell how much is lack of socializing during the pandemic and how much is a healthy appreciation for this greater community and the potential it has, but we’ve run into dozens of people over the course of this winter that all agree that we need more to do for winter activities. From bonfires, to sledding, to cross country skiing, to ice skating, to winter after dark opportunities to support our local businesses and maybe get a cup of hot cocoa, hot toddy or a bottle of mulled wine, and more, Valley residents seem to want more to do when it gets cold.
We write this in the waning days of winter not because we’re going to miss the cold sub-zero days, but because this means we have a year to figure out how to weather winter better next year.
More likely than not, things will be tough next winter, we can’t expect any one village or organization alone to build and maintain an ice rink, clear and designate a sledding hill, mark out cross country skiing trails, bring the wood and light a bonfire — it’s going to take all of us coming together to make it happen.
A village may approve of the ideas, a village may permit the ideas, but a village government alone can’t take the mantle and carryout these ideas and more. If this is something we want we’ll have to work together. If we want to bring in young professionals to this community, if we want to retain and attract families, if we want businesses open later than 5 pm, then we need to show up and support our community.
We keep wanting to print words about entropy, about how if something isn’t maintained, isn’t built onto, if something doesn’t grow, then you slowly lose it. There is much to be said about maintaining what we have, our villages can only do so much themselves, but the community can do so much more.
One of our biggest inspirations for building community is what we’ve seen from Volume One, an arts & culture publication in Eau Claire that has been a big part of bringing people together and finding ways to build community. The owner/editor of the publication describes a feedback loop philosophy (volumeone.org/feedbackloop) that he believes drives community engagement, where creative people bring creative ideas (“impulses” as he calls them) and discusses how the community supports them, works together to enact them and how it creates a feedback loop of new creative ideas to then be acted on to better the community.
We were watching a meeting recently where a creative person had a creative idea and they didn’t know where to go with their idea. We don’t know if a solution was ever found, but ideas that better the community need to be supported and fostered. We can’t sit back and wait for someone else do the work. If you have a good idea don’t let it live and die solely in your creative mind. Share it. Support the ideas of others.
An ice rink isn’t just an ice rink, it’s an idea, an impulse. The question is, can we come together to support it and jump start that feedback loop?
Please reach out with your ideas and let’s build community together.