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COMMUNITY

BUILDERS

Nancy Martinson Lanesboro, MN

Nancy Martinson in her garden. / Photo by Renee Bergstrom

BUILDING COMMUNITY, AGAINST THE ODDS BY STEVE HARRIS

F

or almost three decades, Nancy Martinson has used unlikely “ingredients” to build community in Lanesboro, Minnesota – rhubarb, ukuleles, and a dash of yoga, to name a few. Lanesboro, a unique little tucked-away river town, is the official B&B capital of Minnesota. Nancy had a hand in that distinction, renovating an 1880s Victorian home into a bed-and-breakfast in the 1990s. Later she helped organize a food-and-art store to connect local farmers and artisans with potential customers. In 2019 she assembled a 50-player ukulele orchestra (in a town of 754 people) to help celebrate Lanesboro’s 150th birthday. All the while, she was promoting and teaching weekly yoga classes for men and women of all ages. “I never thought about being a community builder,” she says. “It just happened. It was more about seeing needs and trying to help

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fill them. Tourists needing lodging led to the B & B. Working with like-minded friends to make local food and art accessible became Lanesboro Local. Our Farmer’s Market needed more visibility, so we thought, ‘Hey, rhubarb grows well here and would make a fun festival theme.’ We thought we’d try it for a year.” They did. It worked. Nancy became “Top Stalk” of Lanesboro’s “Divine Rhubarb Committee” that launched Lanesboro’s popular Rhubarb Festival in 2004, and it’s now held every year on the first Saturday in June. The Minnesota State Legislature even recognized Lanesboro as the Rhubarb Capital of Minnesota by proclamation in 2008 (it’s a town of many capitals!). The committee published a rhubarb cookbook that sold thousands of copies, and in 2007, Nancy even persuaded Garrison Keillor to broadcast “Prairie Home Companion” live from the Festival.

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Fall 2021 / iloveinspired.com

Back row: Marcia Madrigal, Mike Kelly, Gina Smith, Jayme Folkedahl Front row: Jeanne Gullekson, Keegan Steinlage, Ron Juve, Janice Numedahl

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