Photo By Paul Flessland
The snow is melting, the daylight is longer, the weather is warmer, the coats we wear are thinner–this is synonymous of one thing: spring is slowly but confidently sweeping away winter.
When I graduated from Concordia College, I wanted to relocate to a big city because there are supposedly “more things to do.” The latter statement where the size of a city is proportional to the amount of activities available for its citizen is an urban myth. In July 2015, I joined Folkways–a social venture that nurtures culture creators (baristas, artists, local businesses, entrepreneurs and more) to make Fargo the best place to live on earth. Folkways believes that community engagement instills a sense of belonging, and it has played a pivotal role in helping me engage with the FM area, thus instilling within me a deep sense of belonging. As a result, now I can proudly call our Silicon Prairie my home away from home.
If I could get a Godly aptitude, it would be omnipresence. After joining different circles and networks in the area I went from “there is not much to do” to an overwhelmingly “I cannot do it all.” As the community liaison of Folkways, I have had the privilege to fully interact with the community in numerous ways, and that’s why I have concocted for you my seven favorite ways of engaging with this enchanting Red River Valley
1. TALKING TO THE AMBASSADORS
At Folkways, we believe that the ambassadors of our community are the individuals that have hundreds of interactions with people on a daily basis: baristas, artists, entrepreneurs, owners of local businesses, etc. They are approachable and they know the pulse of the area. I have interacted with these valuable ambassadors many times when promoting an event or even hanging posters on their rich community walls and windows.
2. COMMUNITY EVENTS
The fact that you are reading this monthly magazine already proves that you are proactively searching for events in the area. Knowing exactly when and where events are happening is a team effort. I have noticed that by inviting people to events I was aware of resulted in the same people always remembering to invite me to other community events that they are aware of.
3. THE TRI-COLLEGE COMMUNITY
In 2016, Fargo was named “Best Small College Town” in the nation according to schools.com! The local colleges are vibrant, rejuvenating and they dictate the pulse of the FM area. The different sporting events, art events, multicultural festivals and keynote speakers that come to North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead and Concordia College bring to our town what can be sometimes overlooked.
4. PIERCING ONE’S BUBBLE
I compare it to people preparing for a marathon and the different milestones they have to check off before getting to the actual race. It is the same for joining new circles or networks–you do it with an incremental approach, otherwise you will be overwhelmed, thus discouraged. The sense of discomfort is a sign of personal growth, comparable to how the soreness after a good workout is a synonym of muscle gain.
This can be a weekly, monthly or even yearly habit where you decide to reach out to local nonprofits. I can ensure you that any help is always welcomed. I am always grateful to be part of a community that empowers, celebrates and supports nonprofits with yearly events such as the recent Giving Hearts Day back in February.
6. “DO IT YOURSELF”
Sometimes there is a club or a circle you want to join but it doesn’t exist yet. This is when you create this non-existing group. Social media can connect you to other people in the community sharing your passion for a new thing or hobby you’re interested in. This is one of my favorite ways of meeting new people, because there is an automatic sense of ownership and pride by the members of a newlycreated group.
7. THE POWER OF SHOWING UP
Finally, all of this would not be possible if you don’t do what Woody Allen says is 80 percent of success: showing up. The other 20 percent left is usually being approachable by smiling, how you present yourself at community events, plus the time and effort are you willing to give to the community. Once you have showed up, you might as well give it a shot and engage with at least one of the organizers at the event in order to add an “ambassador” to your list of friends that will get you up-to-speed with other events.
IN A NUTSHELL
In a nutshell, there are multiple ways to start this engagement journey. Nevertheless, the one precious element you have to give, no matter who you, are to successfully engage with our beloved community is time.