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Think Global, Act Local: Meet Steve French – Community Activator

Photo By Nolan P. Schmidt

Warm Greetings

In times when the world is still healing from this global pandemic, where people long for human connection and as the enchanting Spring is preparing the way for the heartwarming Summer: I wanted to talk with a stellar individual who thrives at creating spaces and events where people can connect meaningfully.

In the fall of 2017, I met a special person at the Red River Market. At first glance you cannot miss him as he stands out by his stature and his worldly aura, making him a person I wanted to approach and learn from.

Steve French is a community activator at Folkways with a focus on the administrative, production and operational needs of the team. Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, he has a background in brand mobile experience design.

I feel fortunate to call him a friend I abundantly learn from at Folkways but foremost the Red River Valley is a better place because he proudly calls it his home away from his Utah home state.

Next time you see him: be sure to ask him why he loves the F-M Area!

Skol! Cyusa

Where do you call home?

My home is Fargo, N.D. I’m originally from Salt Lake City. Prior to coming to the area, I had a pretty colorful journey of a life. I left Salt Lake at about 24 to move to Brooklyn (NY) with a Black Metal record label I was working for at the time. 15 of us caravanned along with the entire label and its 300,000+ CDs across the country in the hopes of making it big. I ended up working for an experiential marketing firm on Wall Street, which took me all over the country creating experiences for worldwide brands.

With your passion for traveling, how did you land in Fargo? What keeps you busy here?

I am not sure if I have a passion for travel, perhaps it is a result of doing it so much. I ended up in Fargo as several different circumstances came together. I had finished work I was doing in Austin, and my partner is from Fargo, so I came to visit and pretty much immediately fell in love with it. Currently, my days are spent full time with Folkways and the community projects we work on. Spending time with my partner and her two kids and a few smaller projects.

Why should F-M area residents invest more in community- driven curated experiences?

“Pay attention to your 5 blocks” I would say that is at the core of it. You should care about where you live, and care about others that live there as well. This line of thinking I feel guarantees the best opportunity for good outcomes for your life.

Why should people care to read about outside the Midwest?

As stated in the above question, you should care about where you live. Time spent on the road showed me that people have far more in common than they are different. Whether it is here in Fargo or any other place on earth. Invest in your community to make the best life for yourself.

What are some misconceptions between smaller cities and larger, more metropolitan areas?

Having spent a lot of time working in marketing, I am kind of averse for the most part to this one. People are people, of course, shaped by their environment and by experiences. In urban spaces like New York City, you have a greater opportunity for a variety of experiences, while rural areas tend to be more stable. Each with its own pros and cons.

What did you learn growing up between many cultures which you can apply in Fargo?

My biggest take away has been that people are good, despite how much media wants us to believe otherwise.

What is your vision 2030? Where will you be and why?

I hope to be here in Fargo-Moorhead. I really do think it is a great place with quite a bit to offer if you can be a little creative. So many great people and to me the winter is not as bad as it is made out to be.

Written by Nolan P. Schmidt

Nolan is the Editor of Fargo Monthly. Schmidt is also the Editor of Spotlight Media's Bison Illustrated and Future Farmer publications. He is originally from Bismarck, N.D. and is a proud graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead.

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