What issues face younger adults in lakes area communities?
Last summer, community meetings in Crosby and Brainerd were designed to learn more about concerns and problems facing younger adults, age 18 to 30, and those with lower incomes and what barriers keep them from greater participation in the areas where they live.
Ideas were shared through the meetings and via a survey. On Saturday, follow-up meetings are planned in Crosby and Brainerd. Organizer Richelle Winkler, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, is working on the project for her graduate work. Winkler said she hopes to recruit as many people as possible to attend a meeting.
To date, about 70 people have participated. Winkler is asking past participants to bring friends or family to the Saturday meetings, but the event is not limited to those who took part in previous meetings or surveys.
If you go
The meetings will be 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hallett Community Center in Crosby and 2:30-5 p.m. Saturday at the Brainerd Public Library.
Breakfast foods will be provided at the Crosby meeting. A pizza meal will be provided in Brainerd. Child care will be available at both sites.
For more information, e-mail organizer Richelle Winkler at email@example.com or call (608) 843-1359.
"They are an important part of the community," Winkler said of young people. She said the meeting provides an opportunity for young people to make a positive difference for themselves and others as well as have their opinions heard.
Concerns identified during the summer sessions included: a lack of good-paying, year-round jobs with benefits; high cost of transportation; a lack of quality affordable housing and apartments for families; and a lack of social activities for younger adults that don't revolve around drinking or tourism.
"We want to move beyond simply hearing the concerns and move toward doing something to address those concerns," Winkler said.
The meetings are 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hallett Community Center in Crosby and 2:30-5 p.m. Saturday at the Brainerd Public Library. Breakfast foods will be provided at the Crosby meeting. A pizza meal will be provided in Brainerd. Child care will be available at both sites.
To help attract people to the meetings, participants will have a chance to win a 32-inch Sony flat screen television, one of several $50 gas cards or one of several $50 grocery gift certificates.
Winkler and a group of community leaders from around the Brainerd lakes area are working together with the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation and the Initiative Foundation on the project that developed as an off-shoot of a social capital survey. The survey looked at community connections.
Research on the subject indicates communities rich in social capital tend to have desirable attributes - higher achievements in education, better performances in government, faster economic growth and less crime and violence.
For Saturday's meetings, Winkler said the plan is to narrow issues concerning young people to those participants feel are most important and feasible to change.
"We want to do more than just hear about the problems, we want to do something to make the situation better and build on the strengths that we all have," Winkler said in a letter to past participants. "As a group, we will determine which of these issues we want to try to tackle and how we might start. We will be asking people to band together to do something to make a positive change. Together, I believe that we can make a difference."
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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