Community Builder, Folkways
The pioneers that came to Fargo in the late 1800s came because they saw potential. This new settlement on the edge of the prairie was harsh and unknown – yet these settlers saw possibility and opportunity, like those who went on to build industries in our region with software, transportation and precision agriculture.
When these first farmers were putting down roots, they needed to work with others to survive. Without help from your neighbor, you didn’t get the crop out of the field or the barn raised. This mentality has led to a supportive community within and across industries and has fostered a regional culture marked by mutual support.
So many of our local entrepreneurs can attribute their success to help received when they were getting started. Now, these same entrepreneurs are open to supporting those who are just getting started themselves. We see this support offered through programs like Co.Starters, a business development course that helps aspiring and established entrepreneurs. The class is led by business leaders and hosts guest speakers weekly who share their experiences and resources as successful entrepreneurs.
Today in Fargo, we have a bustling economy, a thriving downtown and 10 people a day moving here. Fargo-Moorhead is home to more than 30,000 students across three major institutions and countless other education programs. This injection of young individuals brings energy to the community.
When it comes to doing business in downtown, it sometimes feel more like a college campus than a business district. The chance that you will run into someone you are working with while walking down the street is high. Impromptu meetings in cafes and street corners are priceless, and move ideas forward faster than lengthy emails or phone tag.
When I was planning the first Red River Market, now a staple event on Saturdays, it was often faster to leave my office and walk down the street to meet with someone than wait for an email. My ability to do business in-person leads to new relationships and collaborations versus transactional conversations.
Fargo’s inviting range of restaurants, cafes and venues sets the stage for planned and unplanned interactions. Not only does the downtown renaissance play a role in facilitating day-to-day business, its vibrant nightlife is a pillar to quality of life for young and old living and working in the metro. These locally-owned establishments also serve and attract those taking tech, healthcare and university jobs in the community.
At Folkways, we believe a compelling culture is what attracts people to a place, but the sense of belonging is what causes people to stay. This sense of belonging urges individuals to not wait for others to make our city better. Instead, they choose to make it better themselves. For example, consider Ugly Food of the North, a group committed to sustainable food systems, creating a movement of planting little free gardens and front-yard planter boxes for passersby to take and enjoy. Or GroupThink, a team of individuals hosting monthly conversations on topics with guests representing diverse and sometimes opposing views and challenging topics. Both of these groups are working to improve Fargo and neither need permission to do so.
People know in a town like Fargo, real impact is possible – that you are only one conversation away from a collaborator who can help make an idea happen. That people are ready to collaborate and willing to invest in the future of our community.
Like the pioneers who first came to this valley, the people of this community today are here because they see the potential and know they can make a difference.