By Susan Schoepke
The League of Minnesota Cities’ (LMC) centennial year is winding down, but before we launch into the next 100 years, let’s take a step back and look at all the fun and interesting ways we celebrated this milestone.
LMC’s story was written
The League is now a well-established resource in our great state, helping local leaders run their cities smoothly and efficiently. However, the path wasn’t always clear, and it took foresight and determination to become what it is today. Success wasn’t guaranteed, and many local leaders and LMC staff put it all on the line to make it work over the last 100 years.
The centennial keepsake booklet, which the League mailed to members in May, told the story of the League’s founding in 1913 (after two failed attempts); its split from longtime partner, the University of Minnesota, in 1973; how the insurance crisis in the late 1970s triggered the founding of the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust in 1980; and much more. Didn’t get a copy? Contact Danielle Cabot at firstname.lastname@example.org to request one.
Minnesota Cities magazine got a makeover
The centennial year saw the complete redesign of our flagship publication, Minnesota Cities, which debuted with the May-June issue. The magazine originally launched in February 1916 and has been the League’s premier publication ever since. While the redesign was not specifically tied to centennial events, the timing was perfect to help us set the stage for the next 100 years. The magazine also included a new column for the year, the Centennial Corner, which featured important League milestones and memories such as: the history of our advocacy efforts; LMCIT Board of Trustees president Todd Prafke’s personal story about what LMCIT means to him; a recap of LMC’s first service to members, the Municipal Reference Desk (now known as the LMC Research and Information Service); and a photographic retelling of our July 19 Centennial Celebration at St. Paul’s historic Union Depot. Also new for 2013 beginning with the May-June issue, the magazine is available online at www.mncities.org.
The Centennial Celebration was enjoyed by all
Most of the time, the League and its members are focused on building better communities, advocating for their residents, or figuring out complex policies. In honor of our centennial, we decided it was time to take a break, reflect, and, most importantly, celebrate!
Held on June 19 (on the eve of the LMC Annual Conference), the Centennial Celebration brought civic leaders, past and present, to the historic Union Depot in St. Paul. We ate birthday cake, we laughed, we got to know each other, and some of us even got to know special guest speaker Garrison Keillor! For highlights and photos of the event, see an article from the September-October 2013 Minnesota Cities magazine at www.lmc.org/centennial.
A centennial garden blossomed
The League partnered with Blooming St. Paul and the Scheffer Recreation Center (a few blocks from LMC headquarters) to design and plant a new flower garden in an area where kids often wait for a ride home after summer or after-school programs. Many League staff drive by this particular rec center every day, and we were happy to pitch in when the folks at Blooming St. Paul (a City of St. Paul initiative) told us the rec center had asked for help replanting a garden that had become overgrown with weeds.
LMC staff first worked with Blooming St. Paul’s landscape architecture intern to design a garden that’s both healthy and hearty. Then, on July 9, we rolled up our sleeves and spent the day out in the sunshine, digging in the dirt, and showing those weeds who’s in charge.
A new blog was born
Why did Eleanor Roosevelt once send a personal letter to LMC declining an invitation to our annual conference? Any idea what Minnesota icons Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, $1 million worth of roses at Virginia Clemens Gardens in St. Cloud, and the historic Burwell House in Minnetonka have in common? What did Mrs. Harry Carlson do to win a sightseeing flight over the Canadian border during the 1959 annual conference in International Falls?
We answered all these questions and more as we explored our history in our Centennial blog each week throughout the year. Missed it? It’s not too late to take a stroll down memory lane at www.minnesotacities.blogspot.com.
Historical displays hit the road
If you’ve visited League headquarters in St. Paul or attended any League training this year, chances are good that you saw these interactive, historical displays. A series of five panels helped us take the centennial celebration on the road as we visited communities throughout the state for various trainings and conferences.
One panel asked, “Who are these people in League history?” Another highlighted city icons and their connections to the League. Two panels highlighted the history of the League through a 100-year timeline of milestones and historical images. Finally, and most fun, one panel asked you to step inside a close-up of our original 1913 annual convention photo and decide, “What were they thinking in 1913?” by choosing a funny thought bubble.
A voice was given to our future leaders
While much of our centennial year was spent looking back and reflecting, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to engage our youngest city residents and future members. Kicking off at our Cities Matter booth at the State Fair and continuing through Nov. 1, 2013, the League’s “Mayor for a Day” essay contest gave students ages 7-12 a chance to tell us what they would do if they were in charge of their city for a day.
Sure, a few kids wanted to give free pets to everyone or mandate three-day weekends, but we were proud of how many students took the time to think about how they would use their one day to install more sidewalks, help senior citizens, or clean up the parks. Keep an eye out for the winning entries in the January-February 2014 issue of Minnesota Cities magazine.
A historic photo was re-created
How many LMC staffers does it take to wrangle up more than 400 members for a photo? Answer: A lot, but you made it easy! As the centennial year unfolded, one image that we saw quite a bit was our original 1913 conference photo (see it at http://bit.ly/14iJZLg), and since we were returning to St. Paul for the centennial year, we could not miss the opportunity to re-create it with all of your smiling faces. See the 2013 photo at www.lmc.org/centennial.
Gov. Dayton gave us a day to call our own
Gov. Dayton declared Oct. 11, 2013, Minnesota Cities Day throughout the state. The proclamation declared that, “During its 100 years of existence, the League has helped cities and their elected and appointed officials serve their communities
through advocacy, education and training, policy development, risk management, and many other programs dedicated to facilitating collaboration among local governments and ultimately contributing to the high quality of life in Minnesota.”
We couldn’t agree more and are thrilled that Gov. Dayton recognized the hard work and dedication of our member cities! Why Oct. 11? Fifty years ago, Gov. Karl Rolvaag proclaimed that Oct. 11, 1963, was Municipal Government Day to honor our 50th anniversary, so we thought we’d stick to tradition.
Susan Schoepke is marketing manager with the League of Minnesota Cities. Contact: email@example.com or (651) 215-4035.
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