Positive-thinking Rotary Club members must have believed their A Positive Charge change campaign would receive honors.
The program that allowed community members, through black and white photos, to express what they love about the Brainerd lakes area was honored last Saturday at the State Fair for efforts to improve neighborhoods and towns. Brainerd’s campaign was honored as Best of the Minnesota Community Pride Showcase and the club received $500.
The photos were created into signs with sayings that included, “A Great Place To Work, an even Better Place to Play,” “Brainerd ... All Seasons, Absolutely Beautiful,” “There’s No Place Like Home” and “Hunting Paradise.” The signs, created by residents in Brainerd, Baxter, Nisswa, Pillager, Pequot Lakes, Merrifield, Crosby and Crosslake, hung on window displays at businesses, offices, churches, schools and other places.
Debby Erickson, Rotary Club’s public relations director, said being honored at the state fair was not only exciting, but it gave the club one more way to reach out to more communities spreading the word about how beneficial the campaign was to the people in the community.
Erickson said the feedback the Rotary Club received at the state fair, as well as at home was, well, positive. Erickson said a few people in the lakes area thought it was “cool to see their picture or a picture of someone they knew ... and finding the photos (in the community) was part of a game.”
At the state fair, club members wore A Positive Charge T-shirts, and people asked members what the campaign was all about.
“There were interested people who liked the concept and wanted to implement it in their own community,” said Erickson. “It was interesting to hear the feedback.”
Erickson said Labor Day was the end of the campaign, but people may leave the signs up if they want to. Erickson said even though the campaign was a success, the club does not plan to make it an annual event.
“We thought of this as a one time deal,” said Erickson. “We’d like to put it on the shelf for a few years and then try it again ... It was a one time shot to generate some interest and see how far it’d go. This took a lot of volunteers and effort and everyone stepped up to help.”
There were more than 1,000 people who took part in the campaign and about 340 signs made, as many people were photographed in groups and others as individuals. The club, partnering with RedHouseMedia in the Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd, made 1,600 prints that were displayed in the lakes area. There also was a billboard in Brainerd that displayed four different signs over the summer.
Ron Morris of Brainerd posed individually on A Positive Charge sign. Morris’ sign read, “Living on the Mississippi,” which is something he loves about living in Brainerd. He also had signs on display at his business at Insty Prints in Brainerd.
Morris said his wife Millie also did a sign with their grandbaby Mila that read, “ Nurturing Community + Good Genes Equals Cute Local Babies.” Morris said he and his wife had to laugh as her sign had nurturing spelled wrong as it was missing the first “r.”
“It looked more like neutering, than nurturing,” Morris said with a laugh. “No one noticed it right away and someone said it was spelled wrong after awhile. We were a little embarrassed, but it was kind of neat because people were so impressed with the whole project with the people and the sayings in the signs that people didn’t notice the smaller details.”
Morris said the campaign was positive as people thanked him for putting up the signs and people were interested in seeing the signs around town.
Marc Halverson of Brainerd Floral Gift and Bridal and Mark Dockendorf of Cash Wise Liquor in Brainerd and Baxter said both businesses had A Positive Charge signs, as well as a DVD that ran a slide of all the photographs that were created.
Halverson, also a Rotarian, said in today’s economic times where finances are tight and people are talking about the high unemployment rate, taxes and discussing the upcoming school referendum, having the positive campaign this summer gave people something to smile about.
“Even though we’re facing tough times, they smile and that’s the biggest thing for me,” said Halverson. “A lot of people put this together despite all the bad things going on. It’s nice to see.”
Halverson said that customers saw the signs and some would agreed with the saying, such as “Yes, this is a good fishing mecca.” Halverson said he also had fun seeing the other signs around town and finding people he knew.
See all 271 photos of 'A Positive Charge' at spotted.brainerddispatch.com
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.