As part of the Bright Ideas Workshop, attendees were asked to brainstorm individual assets of people in the community. Mary Deters wrote the ideas that she and her tablemates developed, (clockwise) Robert Vogel, Mike Solum, Johnathan Storlie, Logan Deschler, John Nerstad and Jason Boon.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->SGH/Deschler
As part of the Bright Ideas Workshop, attendees were asked to brainstorm individual assets of people in the community. Mary Deters wrote the ideas that she and her tablemates developed, (clockwise) Robert Vogel, Mike Solum, Johnathan Storlie, Logan Deschler, John Nerstad and Jason Boon.

SGH/Deschler
What is done today affects the future of tomorrow and beyond. More than 30 people gathered at the Bright Ideas Workshop at the Fest Building on Saturday morning to think about and plan for future growth in Spring Grove.

This workshop and potential project are being supported by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) with a $20,000 grant.

This Bright Ideas Workshop was led by Pam Bishop from SMIF. Attendees were asked to identify six different key asset areas in the Spring Grove community.

The key assets they looked at were: individual assets, social assets, associations, institutions, physical assets and financial assets.

The point in thinking about these assets and identifying them was to help people really look at what the area has to offer and to see the cup as half-full instead of half-empty.

This is all part of the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach.

It was clearly explained in the book "Building Communities from the Inside out," by John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight, "Instead of focusing on a community's needs, deficiencies and problems, Asset Based Community Development helps communities become stronger and more self-reliant by discovering and mobilizing all of their local assets around an issue."

"Communities don't do this [asset mapping] often enough," commented Bishop. "It is important to find out more about each other; we need to do this to know what others' talents are and then know how to best use those talents."

A core leadership group has been meeting in Spring Grove to prepare for this Bright Ideas Workshop.

As part of their preparation, they developed a vision statement, "To advance economic vitality for the area through: promoting greater pride in our community, inspiring entrepreneurship and business investment, nurturing existing and new leaders and encouraging tourism."

After identifying the key assets of the Spring Grove area and focusing on the vision statement, workshop attendees were asked for their ideas of projects that would correlate to this vision.

Several ideas were presented - a campground/RV park, a youth center, an entrepreneurs' institute, a non-profit grant writing cooperative, a birding trail, an online video conferencing education center, a cooperative wind farm, an incubator space for artists and animal assisted activities.

The idea person explained their project concept. After some discussion and deciding that some projects could be combined, five projects were decided to be looked at more closely - a campground/RV park, a youth center, an entrepreneurs' institute, a non-profit grant writing cooperative, and a birding trail

Attendees chose one project that they were interested in supporting and sat at that table to help develop the project idea more thoroughly.

Highlights and project plans were written down and presented to everyone. Attendees then voted on the project or projects that they wanted to see be developed. The vote was nearly equal so Bishop recommended that all five projects proceed on to the next step of development.

Project groups now have until Feb. 25 to plan their funding proposals and more details about the implementation of their projects.

Certain criteria must be met by the projects in order to be considered for the grant funding from SMIF.

The projects' funding proposals will be presented to the core leadership team, which is also open to the public to attend. Look for more details in a future edition of the Herald for location, time.

After the presentation on Feb. 25, the project leaders will be instructed the rest of the timeline with the projects needing to be completed by Aug. 31 with their final report turned into SMIF for final consideration.

It is still possible to join a project team. Anyone with questions or interested in joining a project team can contact Rachel Storlie at (507) 498-3574 or rachel@storlie.org. Also, visit Bright Ideas Facebook page for updates at www.facebook.com/brightideasworkshopsg.