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Beacons of Hope to hold community conversation

Two Harbors residents share ideas for combating poverty during a Becons of Hope community conversation March 2 at the Two Harbors Community Center. (News-Chronicle file photo by Jamey Malcomb)

The Two Harbors community has always been a warm and welcoming place that traditionally has come together to help out members in need as best it can. Never has that tradition been more evident than in the growing efforts and numbers of people involved with Beacons of Hope.

The group will hold the third in a series of community conversations that aims to combat poverty in Two Harbors and the surrounding area and if the trend holds, it could be quite a turnout. Nearly 50 people came out to the last conversation March 2, about 21 more than the previous conversation held earlier in the year. The next conversation will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Two Harbors Community Center and the hope is that even more people will turn out to join the effort to fight poverty in the community and enjoy a meal with their fellow community members.

Beacons of Hope is a Two Harbors-based program that hopes to fight poverty by addressing the five issues through a grant from the Blandin Foundation to implement its Leaders Partnering to End Poverty (LPEP) training program. LPEP focuses on building leadership capacity in the community to increase opportunities for people to move out of poverty, according to the Blandin Foundation website. The purpose of the program is to deepen understanding of poverty related issues; strengthen social capital across economic disparities; develop leadership capacities and skills; and learn core leadership competencies to organize a focused community effort to impact poverty related issues.

LPEP consists of seven leadership training sessions, three community events and the community conversations. Two of the three events have already occurred and the third is still being planned. The point of the leadership training is to establish and create leaders on the issue of poverty and help community members build relationships across socioeconomic barriers. Community members, like Marlys Wisch of the Lake County Sex Trafficking Task Force, Community Partners executive director Taylor Holm and Two Harbors Area Food Shelf director Michelle Miller moderated various issue stations and guide the conversations.

Beacons of Hope has identified five major issue areas to help combat poverty including: safe and affordable housing; accessible and affordable activities for youth; access to information; creating a sense of belonging in the community; and increasing job opportunities that promote a healthy community.

During the March 2 conversation, participants were given questions related to the issues and they wrote their suggestions and comments on butcher paper and sticky notes and several of those in attendance asked to receive more information to work further on one of the five areas. The issues many times are interrelated.

For example, many times employers have difficulty making new hires because of the lack of affordable rental housing in Two Harbors. Participants provided a number of suggestions that could potentially help increase the volume and affordability of rental housing available in the city as well as potential opportunities for employment that would benefit the community and provide well-paying jobs.

For more information or to register for the free session, contact Community Partners at (218) 834-8024.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle in August 2015. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and previously worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. He is the beat writer for the Lake County Board of Commissioners, Lake Superior School District board of education and high school sports in Lake County. 

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