Community feedback
for community improvement

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Boosting Up Sauk Centre nears conclusion of surveying phase

By Hans Lammeman

The Boost Up Sauk Centre project is nearing the completion of a surveying process to gather information from residents and visitors online and at local events on how to enhance the community.

Beginning in June, the initiative led by the Sauk Centre Area Community Foundation, Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club began gathering feedback on various topics through a brief survey that will guide future project investments. The community survey portion of the Boost Up Sauk Centre initiative concludes Aug. 20, followed by the organization’s steering committee analyzing responses to identify an overarching goal for funds and efforts.

Sauk Centre Area Community Foundation Executive Director Sara Carlson said gathering feedback from locals and visitors is crucial for the project before choosing how to invest funds for the betterment of the community.

“Any entity, like the Rotary, Chamber and Community Foundation, can (generate) ideas and project possibilities by ourselves knowing just the information we know,” Carlson said. “The problem is that is only the information we know. The goal of community-wide engagement efforts like Boost Up Sauk Centre is to make lots of pathways for people to share their perspectives for more well-rounded outcomes.”

Carlson estimated the next phase of the Boost Up project would begin about a month after the survey deadline.

“After the (final) surveys are submitted, we will look for things that have consistently been in multiple surveys that go on the list for the steering committee to look at,” Carlson said. “This menu of sorts helps them to see where projects might naturally be created to address a need, gap or opportunity. Then, the steering committee will help craft a larger vision statement for placemaking work and assign some starting point big goal areas.”

Boost Up representatives attended Sinclair Lewis Days, Concerts in the Park on Wednesdays, Chalk in Sauk and several other local events to distribute surveys.

The brief questionnaire is also available online, with an estimated completion time of 1-3 minutes. Carlson said the organization is actively considering special approaches to segments of the population that may require a unique system for survey distribution, like non-English speakers and deaf or hard-of-hearing persons and those with other unique circumstances.

Carlson said early survey responses had emphasized the need for the next generation of leaders to have opportunities to assume roles in the community. She anticipated housing needs would be a common theme among respondents.

“If that’s the case, we want to see if there’s a way that we can make it more accessible for housing across the continuum,” Carlson said. “Other communities who have done community engagement efforts like this have done a housing study to see their greatest needs, which then equips the city and developers with the data they need for larger projects.”

In the coming months, the Boost Up team would likely meet with local organizations, agencies and entities like the schools and the city about creating a collective impact in a collaborative model, Carlson said.

“(Previous grant) funding was always only the starting place,” Carlson said. “It helps get the ball rolling and start some important work. However, if we want this effort to continue to help build a thriving community long-term, it isn’t a one-year thing. Collaboration and joint funding will be essential to move this into a long-term mechanism.”

The survey-gathering phase, she said, is a key step to community-supported goals for the Boost Up project.

“We’re trying to think about a newcomer’s perspective and what we could do as a community so this becomes a place where everyone feels they can belong and participate,” Carlson said. “We’re asking people to really share their perspective and to consider a sort of change – change for the good of us all for the future. We don’t want to be left behind as the world adapts.”