Redesigning Two Harbors Waterfront

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In the North Shore city of Two Harbors, fewer than four thousand people live there, but now their name is being recognized on a national scale.

A group of the city’s residents formed a group called the Friends of the Waterfront; they applied to be considered for a National Endowment for the Arts Fund 25 Rural Communities Through Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, and Two Harbors won one of eight spots.

“We’re absolutely thrilled. There were a lot of people who put in a lot of time and effort to put together the application. We felt really confident that we had a strong argument based on where Two Harbors is located, based on the historic infrastructure, and the fact that this spring the property at the waterfront was conveyed back to the city from the DNR. So, we knew for the first time in our city’s history we had an opportunity to do something with this space,” said Jolene Brink, who started the Friends of the Two Harbors Waterfront.

With this initiative being citizens-based, Brink said that it allowed them to put their input on the tables for those that live, play and work in Two Harbors. “It’s going to allow us to include more voices than would have otherwise happened. In the normal process of what typically happens. We’re trying to learn from our shared experience. We’re also excited to work with the city to see what’s possible.”

Mayor Lew Conner added, “Having a group like this that can come in and offer the support and the input that we naturally would have been looking for at some point are getting this done early, and we’re very excited about that.”

Brink says the group and the design learning cohort will be meeting over the course of 14 months, working on the design and development of a large, 47-acre Two Harbors waterfront project.

The National Endowment for the Art will provide guidance from a range of design, planning, and creative placemaking professionals to help community organizations and governments explore designs to revitalize their communities.

The eight workshop communities that Two Harbors will be a part of will also participate design learning cohort, receive training in rural design, assistance in navigating funding opportunities, and much more.
Even though Two Harbors is a small community, the mayor shares that they are still able to make themselves stand out and go for big moments like these.

“It’s demographics, we understand that, but then what you’ve got to do is be creative and find things such as what the Friends of the Waterfront are doing to try and boost and boost the opportunities.”