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Context is important.
This blog is part story, shared learning, and insights into what is coming for the residents and City of North Mankato. The story begins with sharing what Brewing Ideas was and what it’s leading the North Mankato community into. If you can, read through it’s entirety and grab your calendar while you’re at it. Let’s see where the story begins, and follow it through to where the shared learning and insights are taking us next!

Brewing ideas was a public engagement process that was held in the spring of 2016, engaging citizens in conversations that matter to the North Mankato community. It was the beginning of an intentional effort from local government leaders to get more citizens input into the exploration of ideas for how local government can strengthen and improve the city of North Mankato.

Early efforts to engage more voices came in the form of a questionnaire that was sent out to residents before these events. The 910 responses helped get the conversation started with shared insights and input on what key areas the city of North Mankato could prioritize and focus on. The city also launched a website called www.northkatoideas.com to use as an online platform to continue to share out what the city was learning through their engagement efforts, and provide citizens an opportunity to provide continued feedback.

The Brewing Ideas public engagement events were facilitated to engage voices of the participants in smaller conversations around three questions:

  1. What is it that makes people feel connected to North Mankato?
  2. What are we noticing?
  3. What are the opportunities for North Mankato?

The conversations surfaced an understanding of how there’s a strong sense of community in North Mankato. Maybe it’s the neighborly charm or hometown feel residents spoke of. Residents are pleased with local government, have a sense of safety, affinity for strong parks and recreational facilities and enjoy the seasonal events and festivities that bring people together. There was a longing to hear the story and history of this place and it’s people that have helped shape and form North Mankato into what it is today.

There’s an appreciation for the strong and growing business community. Continued ongoing efforts to support business development and expansion in both lower and upper North Mankato were highlighted as being important to the local economy. There is a desire to explore ways to inspire creative economy and leverage the cultural diversity in businesses within the City.

Participants noticed opportunities to build relationships, celebrate the cultural diversity, and economic expansion as the community grows. When it came to livability, relationships matter and people appreciate the neighbor-to-neighbor connections that exist. Residents want to continue to build and strengthen relationships in community. Housing, parks and recreation, and connectivity (bike and pedestrian paths) all weave together around the theme of the hometown feel that residents spoke of.

Opportunities going forward form the Brewing Ideas event includes continued citizen engagement as the community grows. The redevelopment of the downtown area and upper North Mankato areas are exciting for the community. Residents want growth to happen while being conscious of the unique hometown charm North Mankato has, being mindful with design guidelines, historic preservation, green-way conservation and traffic flow and pedestrian traffic will be key components for Smart Growth practices as North Mankato continues to grow and expand. Residents appreciated the opportunity to be engaged and be a part of the conversation that helps shape and form North Mankato into its future while building off its history.

Continued engagement opportunities are being planned with the North Kato Ideas Series starting in the fall of 2017 to help with prioritizing planning, funding and policy efforts going forward. The engagement efforts will be key to North Mankato’s preservation of the hometown feel and pride of place while building and growing opportunities to support arts, culture and the local and regional economy.

The learning from Brewing Ideas is being carried forward in the public engagement process called North Kato Ideas Series, stay informed by following the City of North Mankato’s facebook page and visiting www.northkatoideas.com.