June 23rd will forever be remembered as a key day in MARL Class XI’s journey. Although we walked in to see familiar faces, we had yet to all be in the same room in person. It was an incredible feeling to be amongst our peers, together at last.

The key theme for our leadership seminar is Community Leadership. As we kicked off the first day, we spent some time re-introducing ourselves and getting to know each other a little better by creating a MARL class XI playlist. We each chose 2 songs that remind us of leadership, a moment in our lives, or songs that define us. Look for the details on this playlist coming soon! We had everything from the classics like ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey, modern country, rock and even some R&B.

As we started to take a deeper dive into community leadership, Ben Winchester led us through a conversation about the future of rural communities and presented data and statistics to walk through how to re-write the rural narrative and be and advocate of the benefits and amenities of living in rural Minnesota. Publications can cause a confusing lens on this topic, as some show that populations in rural communities are declining, while other research shows that due to technology and most recently the pandemic people are moving out metro areas into rural communities.

One of the highlights for our group was getting to go into the community to investigate and take a deeper look into Community Capitals (financial, built, natural, cultural, political, social, and human). We broke into a peer learning circle groups and each went to visit different parts of the Thief River Falls community. It gave us all a different perspective on not only the towns we live in, but also how we can utilize the framework of community capitals in our careers and daily lives. We ended the day with singing Happy Birthday to Steven Marsh & Brittany Ullrich after presenting what we learned to our peers.

Submitted by Brittany Ullrich


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