By definition, community means sharing characteristics, location, or some form of commonality that brings different people together. While many of us can claim different communities in one way or another, our towns and county are a big part of what brings us together. But what creates a welcoming and inclusive community?
December 16th, 2021- Hutchinson, the Welcoming and Inclusive Community
Remember when we had a thunderstorm, snow, and sleet all within 24 hours? The next morning McLeod For Tomorrow Participants had to brave the cold and icy roads to attend the December class. Thankfully, all of the participants who were planning to make it, did. Although, the weather did require us to make a few flexible adjustments to the plan.
Early Planning Stages
The flexibility of our program day didn’t just start with weather adjustments, it actually began in the very start of planning. Historically, MITGI has hosted the second Hutchinson day. Their generosity has been brought up by many alumni. Unfortunately, with their upcoming expansion it was not feasible to host in 2021.
After weeks of hunting down a location, asking the public, and other creative solutions, we asked MITGI if they had any suggestions. Instead, they offered to host us with a slight schedule change in timing. We are so grateful for their dedicated support, generosity, and long-time sponsorship of our program by offering us a space, meals, and hospitality. Talk about welcoming and inclusive!
Starting the Day
Miles Seppelt, economic director for the city of Hutchinson, planned to present to our group. Unfortunately, the weather impacted his commute. Thankfully, covid has taught us all to be more flexible and he was still able to do so over Zoom! The work that Miles does every day follows the principals in our welcoming and inclusive community training portion of the day. This made his talk an excellent introduction for our program day.
While you would have to talk to Miles to know the depth of the work he does, much of it boils down to making Hutch a place people and businesses want to be. By supporting new businesses, the tax responsibility for citizens is lowered. It creates more jobs in and around Hutchinson and improves the economy. All of these things make Hutch a greater place to live and raise a family.
Lisa Hinz- University of Minnesota Educator
Lisa Hinz joined us for the second month consecutively. Much of the leadership training portion of the day focused on personal experiences, understandings, and why we are where we are. What do we love about our community? What makes us feel welcome or unwelcomed? ￼
One exercise that was completed individually asked what we look for in a community by picking up to three priorities. The list included things like safety, proximity to relatives, and slower pace of life. Other options were lower cost of living, recreation, education, space, healthcare, and the opportunity to make a living. Knowing what people look for in a community makes it easier to market to them. How can a community be inclusive if you don’t know how to reach the people you are looking for?
After lunch, our group made their way to the Wastewater Treatment Plant. One of our participants and one of our day chairs for this session, Randy Czech, class of 2020 alumni, both are employed there. Additionally, Tim Gratke (Pictured to the right) is one of MFT’s board members and an alumni. Touring locations who especially support our mission brings an added level of fun to the sessions.
The Wastewater treatment plant is a service that greatly impacts the community and environment, while seldom being considered. The plant partners with companies and community members alike to create a healthier Hutchinson. A tour at the Wastewater plant might not seem like the most fun place to be, however; we enjoyed it a lot! They welcome tours, so I strongly encourage you to speak to one of the employees or call if you have questions about their process.
The Highlight of the Day
The next tour was of the Hutchinson High School’s Tiger Path program. Tiger Path is a program that helps students learn marketable skills and plan for their future. The coordinator of the program, Andrea Moore, is another MFT program Alumni. Andrea’s leadership skills make her a perfect fit for her role in guiding students.
The mission of Tiger Path is support students in both pursuing degrees, or whatever career path that seems best suited for their individual skills. This is a significant shift in thinking. Rather than strong-arming students into obtaining degrees, schools are instead focusing on supporting the decision-making process. This level of support helps keep students local and directly relates back to the Hutchinson economy.
The day ended with Happy Hour at Bobbing Bobber Brewery where we toured and enjoyed some Hutchinson made beer. 3BC is a unique addition to the businesses and social locations in our community. If you enjoy a nice beer, seltzer, or root beer, it’s a great place to enjoy one. If you haven’t been there yet, try to make it out. It’s a great place to unwind!
In the end, Hutchinson puts a lot of effort into making the community welcoming and inclusive for new people and businesses. With continued growth projected on the horizon, maintaining a level of inclusivity is imperative to the long-term success of each individual community, and our county as a whole.