Issue 61— July 11, 2023
founded by Minnesota Women's Press, a media pioneer since 1985


Media That Makes a Difference

Changemakers Alliance (CALL) is a supporter-driven, action-oriented expansion of Minnesota Women's Press and that brings people together in conversations about values, solutions, and action steps.
Seward Co-op supports our local economies and ecosystems stories
Reflections from Mikki, publisher
 Jan Eifealdt, Becky Parker, Anne Schwagerl, Audrey Arner, Kathy Draeger, and Mikki Morrissette.
Photos by Edie Barrett (pictured below)
I am writing from Ortonville, across the Big Stone Lake from South Dakota. My visit to this town, three hours west of Minneapolis, is an example of what Changemakers Alliance (CALL) and the "Hometown Values & Vision" series is all about.

When we launched CALL in early 2022, we asked people around the state to share via group Zoom calls what they are fearful of, and where they find optimism, resilience, or solutions. One of the early participants on those calls was Edie Barrett, in Ortonville. Later I learned she was running for House of Representatives, and talked to her for our "Diversity in Politics" series. Ultimately, she was one of the rural candidates we talked to who was not able to replace a long-time legislator; gender-bias and incumbency in large rural districts is a difficult challenge for new candidates.

When I put out the call for "Hometown Values & Vision" destinations, Edie stepped up. She had seven women over for lunch and backyard conversation so I could learn what matters to these engaged voices from various rural towns. I visited her neighbor Kristen Pattison who has created a mini-village around the Big Stone County Animal Rescue she runs out of her garage. Today I will meet with a doctor about rural healthcare, a realtor about housing, and several women entrepreneurs on Main Street, as well as a local reporter.

Deeper stories from the Hometown series, and essays from some of its participants, will appear online soon. For now, I can share that the challenges I have heard are: Rural communities are hurting from lack of community gathering spaces, especially after local schools and cafes close. With taxpayer funds low, policing and schooling are essentially outsourced to county locations instead of local ones. With lack of childcare and housing, workforce needs cannot be met and businesses close.
I continue to find that women and young people who build relationships and trust with each other tend to have a "can do" attitude that enables them to make things happen.

I met Ann Schwagerl, the Minnesota Farmer's Union vice president, who runs a 400-acre farm that grows certified organic corn, soybeans, and grains. She is the mother of three kids under the age of 10 and travels extensively to advocate for farm families so that rural kids have a high quality of life, with access and equity that parallels cousins in the Twin Cities.
Audrey Arner (left) is a long-time member of Land Stewardship Project, and was a food co-op development member in the 1970s, who continues to work on ecosystems integrity and land-back efforts on behalf of the Native community near her farm in Montevideo.

Kathy Draeger, who has been previously featured in Minnesota Women's Press, has an office in Saint Paul to accommodate her work as an adjunct professor in agronomy; in the conversation circle, she said her family moved to Big Stone County to "participate in the revitalization of this area, not bear witness to its death."

The Hometown series is about connecting the dots between engaged Minnesotans who care deeply about solving issues to rejuvenate communities. The opening question for each gathering: What matters to you?

This Sunday, July 16, I will be giving a talk about what I am learning from the Hometown series, at the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis. The music — featuring noted guitarist Dean Magraw — and conversation is available live online starting at 10:30am; my talk will begin around 10:50am.
From Edie Barrett's backyard

Minnesota Women's Press is hiring a Membership & Development Director!
Can you help us find the right candidate?
Please Support the Work We Do
Thanks to generous CALL members and donors, we have funding to add a few more places to our "Hometown Values & Vision" tour, for future writing and to connect with storytellers from Greater Minnesota communities.

With new funding we will be in Duluth and Worthington for co-hosted discussions, and are starting to build contacts to connect in Grand Rapids, Faribault, New London, and Willmar.

This video by Dragonfly Eye Productions tells the story of Changemakers Alliance.

We would like to co-host our conversations about transformative justice and housing around the state.
Can you help us raise the funds we need?

Share this with others who might be able to support the work as well. You can use a tax deductible option thanks to our fiscal agent relationship with Tiny News Collective.

Thanks to Our Underwriters
Valvoline supports our Hometown Values & Vision statewide listening sessions and
our conversations about reducing gender-based violence
Vote Run Lead underwrites our story development about
Hometown Values & Vision and Re-Imagining Public Safety
Contact to support content development campaigns
Minnesota Women's Press photography and website have been recognized three years in a row by the Minnesota Newspaper Association.
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