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NOV. 11, 2005-- Livable places don't just happen - they are created intentionally by people who are rooted in their values and their commitment to a place. The University of Wisconsin-River Falls, the Phipps Center for the Arts, and the St. Croix Community Foundation present the fourth annual regional forum, "Cultivating Community: A Place to Set Roots," on Nov. 29 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson.

Working together toward a common goal builds social capital and a web of relationships that nurtures a sense of connection, belonging and community. I t bonds people with experiences in common and creates bridges between people from different geographic, ethnic, age or income groups. Collectively, such efforts to build community create healthy, safe and vibrant places to live.  

With Wisconsin Idea Theater as the backdrop, the forum will address how to nurture community involvement and move people from being observers to participants. The keynote speaker will be Maryo Gard Ewell, daughter of Robert Gard, the author of "Grassroots Theater: A Search for Regional Arts in America."

Gard's book gives a moving account of the struggle to bring his dream of community-building through creative theater to citizens around the country. He traveled across America--from New York's Finger Lakes and the prairies of Alberta, Canada, to the backwoods of northern Wisconsin--discovering and nurturing the folklore, legends, history and drama of the regions.  

Gard was a professor at the UW-Madison and established the Wisconsin Idea Theatre Conference in 1945. In 1948 he established the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association.

He helped to found the first Wisconsin Arts Foundation and Council and was its first president. The WAFC is said to have been the first official state arts council/foundation in America. He also founded the National Community Theatre Center in 1958 and conducted a national survey of the American Community Theatre in 1957-1958 for the Rockefeller Foundation.

In addition to the forum, there will be an exhibit with related themes in the galleries from Nov. 11 through Dec. 31 at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson. On Friday, Dec. 2, there will be an open mike event at the Phipps beginning at 6:30 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information contact the Phipps at 715-386-2305 or visit its Web site at .



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