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Community arts and sustainable community movements (06/06/2007)
In Winona, the arts are becoming a sustainable model meeting the immediate needs for energy, tourism and economic impact while enhancing the future through flowering cultural growth that will breathe vibrancy into the area indefinitely.

Winona is becoming the "City of Festivals" with the Great River Shakespeare Festival, the Frozen River Film Festival, and the Beethoven Festival.  These festivals are in their infancy, but the impact is already substantial. These festivals, in conjunction with the Maritime Museum, Theatre du Mississippi, the Winona Arts Center, Winona State University, St. Mary's University and various other arts organizations and initiatives (Blue Heron Project, Bluff Country Arts Tour, etc.) and the wonderful mixture of professional artists in the area, make Winona a vibrant arts community.

When we think about sustainability, we need to look no further than the Frozen River Film Festival. The FFRF, a four-day festival of films, speakers, workshops and demonstrations, focuses on environmental, world culture, adventure and extreme sports themes. The FRFF, along with local non-profit organizations and regional businesses including the Farmers Market, Sustain Winona, Bluff Country Coop, numerous Community Supported Agriculture farms, organic farms, locally developed produce, Organic Valley, Great River Organic Milling, Northland Organic, Natural Communities and Honda Motorwerks (hybrid cars) provides an incredible ground work being laid for Winona to become a sustainable arts and economic community model. When you add the involvement of Winona State University and the county and city governments in renewable energy efforts, the goal moves effortlessly from today to tomorrow to forever.

As Winona becomes a community arts and sustainable community model, what does it do for the people who live here now and in future? We will become a city of possibilities.

As we grow, think of Winona as a community whose basic tenets are:

"¢Diversity of natural and human resources as a primary community goal

"¢Economic development focused on sustainability and local efforts including tourism and Community Supported Agriculture

"¢Professional arts as a way of life including creation, participation in and enjoyment of the arts.

"¢Development of community minded young leaders.

Learning is the underlying base for the above tenets. Humbly, we must admit we are not there, and we do have a great deal yet to do. As long as we are receptive to the possibilities, as we have been with the Great River Shakespeare Festival and FRFF to date, this openness to new knowledge will lead in new directions. The result will make this a better place for all of us.

The future looks bright for Winona IF we continue to support the arts and sustainability.  More needs to be done on linking arts and sustainability to the local economy. Given this, Winona appears to have a future that bodes well for its current and future residents.

Will and his wife Maggy Jacqmin are the founders of Theatre du Mississippi and the Frozen River Film Festival. 


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