Valley Sentinel launches Impulse Initiative

Valley Sentinel lends platform in print and online to foster community ideas

Taylor Scott, Managing Editor

We are pleased to announce the (soft) launch of Valley Sentinel’s Impulse Initiative. It has always been our goal to build community and over the past year plus we’ve been talking to area residents every day about their wants, hopes and dreams for the community. We’ve asked many times in print what ideas you had for the community and how we go about doing them. This initiative is a culmination of those things. 

Derived from ideas had for community ties mixers to foster community innovation during my time on the non-profit board of the, now dissolved, River Valley Community Learning Foundation (a spinoff of the former Spring Green Area Arts Coalition, now River Valley Arts) and refined by experiences with other communities and other publications, such as Eau Claire’s Volume One, soon we hope the Impulse Initiative will be a comprehensive platform dedicated to ideas in progress as they go from impulse to reality.

An impulse is an idea, an idea then finds support, the support gets the idea off the ground, the community supports the idea and it leads to more impulses — more ideas — which drives a positive feedback loop.

What’s a feedback loop? Find out here.

After talking to area residents, the far and away impulse we’ve heard most often is a village ice rink and other related winter activities.

This is what we wrote last year: 

“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.”

So that’s where we’re starting, let’s bring people, organizations, businesses and resources together to undertake a Winter After Dark collection of activities. What does this look like? We’re not sure yet, that’s up to you. But, Volume One has a good example here as well.

The idea is to take otherwise boring winter evenings, otherwise empty downtown streets and get people to come out and have fun!

We’re not asking for financial resources right now for any impulses, just commitments. For example, let’s lay out some initial thoughts on what would be needed to make this happen, as a hypothetical:

Valley Sentinel lends its platform to this impulse, people that are interested sign up and meet to figure out what’s needed to get the idea off the ground, a major sponsor is secured that wants to build and foster our community, a location is secured (in this hypothetical let’s say the Spring Green Municipal Golf Course and maybe South Park, with their clubhouse, sledding hill, cross country skiiing paths, shallow ponds for ice skating, etc.). Then donations are solicited for lighting, for hot cocoa to sell, for sleds and skis and skates and snowshoes to rent. Parking is secured and so is a shuttle from downtown Spring Green. Businesses sign up to stay open until 7pm or later to serve the community — and so on.

It’s also important to hold public forums to solicit new impulses at regular intervals as well. We are happy to offer our platform to help create an umbrella for these impulses and ideas that benefit the community.  

We chose Winter After Dark as our first impulse because an ice rink isn’t just an ice rink, it’s an idea, an impulse the community can get behind. 

The question is, can we come together to support it and jumpstart that feedback loop?

Please reach out with your ideas and support — and let’s build community together.

If you’re interested in being involved in Winter After Dark, the Impulse Initiative project or have other ideas that you think would benefit the community, please email us: or call us at 608-588-6694.

“The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the interest of the community.”

—William James