This Land Is Milan

Organization and community: Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (Southwest region, MN)

PlaceBase Productions, a community theater group based in the Twin Cities, led a community engagement process over the Summer of 2017 to transform the community into a stage to explore past stories, present conditions, and future possibilities. (Milan is a town with just under 400 residents, which was facing severe population declines until the recent arrival of Micronesian families.) The artist team explored themes around common ground between Norwegian and Micronesian heritage, immigration stories, the concept of home, and Milan’s history and hopes for the future. Over 40 community members donated 2,000 volunteer hours to participate in the musical held on October 7, 2017. The production highlighted local assets and opportunities and will be a springboard for future community development initiatives. It also raised awareness among skeptical local leaders on how arts-based strategies can address community challenges and opportunities. The production encouraged community connections with over 50 percent of participants indicating after the performance that they would connect more with the community in the future.