For the starter post to the 'ideas' list, please read here.
A few months back I ran across a list of the 'most exciting places in Minnesota'. Somehow, Austin MN, my hometown, made the list. Which, well, good for them, but it didn't make much sense to me. It still doesn't. But it made me think of what I'd do to try and improve the town. (And yes, I know that they're working on a vision for 2020, where they would improve it.) I decided that I'd see if I could come up with ten ideas.
If you really want to make Austin an 'exciting' town, then you bring in about 10,000 more college students or create a live music scene or something grand like that. I'm not going in that direction. I wanted to come up with low cost ideas that wouldn't involve spending millions in infrastructure costs. So some of these are low impact.
But...they might make the town more fun. Here are the first three ideas. The rest will follow all week.
10. Coordinated Garage Sales
Who doesn't love a garage sale, right? The problem is that it's hard to find them. Yes, Craigslist and the like can help but there is a better approach. The neighborhood garage sale. Austin splits nicely into four quadrants. If each quadrant had an advertised weekend for garage sales, it would be easier for planning and shopping. People would simply trawl through, say, the NE area and find sales. One weekend a month from May-August would work. The quadrants could be rotated from year to year. Maybe the area west of Turtle creek should get its own weekend. These details can be worked out.
9. Cross Country Skiing
Winter can be a tough time in Austin. It's very cold and snowy and most activities are indoors. There are some traditional winter sports but the flatness of Austin makes things like down hill skiing impossible. On the other hand, the flatness and reliable snow makes it perfect for cross country skiing. From what I understand, there is a beautiful course at the Nature Center and even an annual race. But what if another course was set up at the fairgrounds? What if a dedicated club had regular events there? What if, stick with me here, what if a biathlon club was formed?
The fairgrounds have the space. It's located in town. It's little used in winter. There are even stands for spectators. This could come together as a wonderful winter thing.
8. Broom Ball and Ice Skating (Lake Games)
In some ways this is similar to the cross country skiing idea. The difference here is that a broom ball league would involve groups of adults. Teams could be sponsored by bars and restaurants and other groups. A broom ball league would have the same advantages as a softball league. Either the Mill Pond or East Side Lake would work for sites.
Austin could also take a page from the Dutch and hold its own annual version of the Elfstednocht. (Well, a smaller page as a 120 mile race would be somewhat excessive.) All that would be needed would be a some cleared ice on East Side Lake and a couple of barrels for markers. A five mile race, back and forth, would be possible. Add in a modest prize you have quite a day!