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Vital Connections

Learn more about topics important to Minnesota communities through articles and podcasts. Find stories and information to help you get engaged in your community. Help others better know, decide and act.

Community features

Community members showing agreement through stacking hands

A community approach to evaluating programs

[podcast] Evaluating programs and initiatives is critical. Hear how listening to community members' stories and interviews can impact your evaluation process.

An entrepreneur writing on an easel outside their shop

Entrepreneurial communities turn local dreamers into doers

What do entrepreneurs need to succeed? Read how you can help your community focus on entrepreneurs. Also, learn about a Minnesota conference that will help connect and inspire entrepreneurial communities.

Broaden and build - positive psychology from Denise and Lori

Broaden and build

[video] How do positive emotions help you? Listen and learn how experiencing positive emotions helps with your creativity and resilience both now and in the future.

All articles, podcasts and videos

Find content on topics that include:

  • Community development (e.g. attracting new residents, evaluating programs and local foods)
  • Community economics (e.g. local economies, retail, retaining businesses and workforce)
  • Leadership and civic engagement (e.g. assessing and developing leaders, facilitation, building trust and engaging communities)
  • Tourism development (e.g. learning about visitors and planning festivals and events)

Looking beyond a conventional analysis of rural Minnesota of decline and stagnation to one of a rural rebound.

[video] How do positive emotions help you? Listen and learn how experiencing positive emotions helps with your creativity and resilience both now and in the future.

[video] What are your top strengths? Watch a short video on using your strengths to fuel your energy. Learn about tools to assess your strengths.

[video] Do you question your talents or intelligence fearing that you don't measure up? Learn more about growth and fixed mindsets and which one aids resilience.

What do you do for fun around here? When visitors come to your town, replies to this question can make or break their impression of your community.

[podcast] We often hear that small, rural communities are disappearing. Ben Winchester, senior research fellow for U of M Extension's Center for Community Vitality, joins us to talk about what is actually happening.

[podcast] Communities are getting creative in how they work to understand and address child care shortages. Hear Greg Wagner from the West Central Initiative as he shares steps they are taking to increase child care capacity.

The last full-service grocery store in Duluth's Lincoln Park neighborhood closed more than 30 years ago, leaving residents stranded in a "food desert."

Think you don't live in a tourist town? Think again. Every town has visitors. Most visitors spend money that helps the local economy, similar to tourists.

[podcast] How do we address Minnesota's workforce issues? Listen to speakers from the University of Minnesota and Extension share their insight on the labor market.

[podcast] Minnesota's workforce is changing. Our workers are aging and new employees are often newcomers to our country. Listen as we discuss the impact of immigrants in our labor market.

Newcomers to Minnesota sometimes joke that “Minnesotans will give you directions to everywhere but their house.” But community leaders across the state are trying to change that – in a big way.

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