Livable Communities Action Team

The Livable Communities Action Team seeks to act upon a broad range of opportunities that can improve quality of life for Iron Range residents. Its mission statement, as adopted in an October 2016 team meeting, explains its purpose as an initiative “to encourage positive change on the Iron Range by working collaboratively towards more livable and vibrant communities.” Hibbing resident and ReGen young professionals group member Vicki Hagberg and former Virginia city councilor Mary McReynolds co-chair the team; Randy Lasky, the President and CEO of the Northspan Group, facilitates its full team meetings. The group first convened in July 2016, and has held numerous large and small group meetings to further its mission. The initial 40-member group of regional stakeholders continues to grow its membership and focus on community priorities.

A shared belief in strengthening communities through the cultivation of social capital underlies all of the action team’s goals. The group brings communities together to build networks that allow for the sharing of best practices from existing initiatives. It also lays the groundwork for future planning efforts, and brings together public, private, and non-profit stakeholders behind a cohesive regional strategy. The Livable Communities Action Team places strong emphasis on measurable goals that allow it to document its successes.

The Livable Communities Action Team honed its priorities based on participant input, and ultimately divided into several sub-groups that tackle specific topics, all of which feed into the broader Livable Communities strategy:

  1. The Downtown Revitalization sub-group, headed by Vicki Hagberg, seeks opportunities to revive the traditional centers of Iron Range cities and towns. It emphasizes initiatives such as pop-up parks and decorated vacant storefronts that immediately brighten the character of a downtown. The sub-group also identified specific potential projects such as the Revive Virginia initiative and restoring the Androy sign in Hibbing as ways to improve the streetscape and encourage more downtown activity.
  2. The Creative Communities sub-group, led by Mary McReynolds, recognizes that the new economy challenges the Iron Range to lift up the creative parts of its communities as young people seek spaces and places of openness and possibility.  The Creative Communities group works to strengthen the capacity of arts and culture organizations and individual artists across the Iron Range.  It connects and supports promising initiatives, and inspires new action by sharing regional and national ideas and opportunities.
  3. Healthy Active Communities is guided by Ray Jobe. It aims to explore mental health issues, encourage active living, and increase healthy food options. By taking advantage of the strengths and resources of communities, and implementing a multi partner approach to advance policy, systems and environmental changes as a way to create conditions and sustainable leadership that will support the health of all people. A community that can work together on common goals can develop meaningful solutions, leverage community resources to create impact, and develop leaders who will advocate successfully for the long-term health of their families and communities on the Iron Range.
  4. The Livable Communities Action Team will also explore sponsoring a sub-group focused on workforce housing and affordable housing for seniors and low-income residents. Emphasis will include both rental and single-family housing. The group intends to sponsor an Iron Range housing summit to gauge interest and support for creating this sub-group.

By fostering greater activity in historic downtown hubs, a growing arts scene that creates job opportunities and livens up downtowns, healthier lifestyles, and affordable housing options for all area residents, the sub-groups contribute to a vision for more livable communities across the Iron Range. Future meetings will further refine goals and launch action plans for regional community development.

 


Committee Minutes/Files