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Reader Opinion: Inspirational stories

How refreshing to read Saturday's Dispatch and see three front page articles tell inspirational stories of dreamers and visionary people with the foresight and drive to create better futures for our communities and world.

In a former job, I watched Jason Eden's work with at-risk students, teaching them about solar energy and its use for good. Students learned new skills and the positive impact solar water heaters had on their low income neighbors. Now, through RREAL, Jason is teaching those same skills and having the same positive impact across our state and world.

In Crosby, Barb Grove envisioned the perfect "making lemonade out of lemons" story when she saw into the future and what could be a game changer for the Cuyuna Range, turning the mining wastelands into an international destination for outdoor, non-motorized recreation. Over time, she and others moved that vision into an economic engine for their community, and a draw for our region.

Finally, the Destination Downtown finalists tell of three potential experience-based businesses to create a buzz in downtown Brainerd. Hopefully this leads to one or more new businesses downtown to inspire others, and move us toward the vision put forth by Bruce Buxton and BLAEDC's River to Rail initiative.

All these stories point to a future of sustainable development, where economic and job growth doesn't come at the expense of our environment and others' experiences. Hopefully, others will see the value in a new economy with unique experiences and solutions, and not see the world only through old lenses. Then, we may see a vibrant downtown, an enhanced riverfront experience, a new performing arts center, and additional miles of non-motorized trails to further build on a destination-worthy place for tourists, and a draw for new workers and entrepreneurs our communities so badly need.

Karl Samp

Executive Director, Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation