At the University of Minnesota, Morris, students get a chance to experience a wide array of collaborative opportunities. Sam Bruno is the perfect example. She is a studio art major, the campus Quidditch league commissioner, and a presenter at conferences dedicated to broadband Internet research. And, in collaboration with professors, local citizens, and the University of Minnesota, Morris Center for Small Towns, this student from a small town used her artistic abilities to help another rural community address problems threatening its very existence.
The town’s problems, Sam noted in her final report, Main Street Makeover: The Wheaton Model, were typical:
- Wheaton was languishing due to lost business and a lack of appeal to outsiders;
- Youth were fleeing the rural community, aging its population;
- The formerly prosperous main streets resembled a ghost town, haunted by the empty storefronts of once-thriving businesses.
After extensive research, discussion with local citizens, and collaboration with her professors, Sam realized a mere facelift would not be sufficient. Her solution? Staged advertising! Use the glorious storefront windows along the main street to promote:
- Still-thriving businesses located on secondary streets;
- Vital local businesses without a stone-and-mortar location;
- Wheaton's inviting town pride, warmth, and history.