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Series focuses on positives in our community

Today, the Detroit Lakes Tribune is unveiling the first in an ongoing series of special news reports focusing on an aspect or subject that defines the word "community" in rural Minnesota.

The project is a collaborative effort among newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Park Rapids, Alexandria, Morris, Wadena, Perham and New York Mills.

Each is publishing a section this week on the same subject.

These sections will be unique and local, although some information as it applies regionally will be shared on a limited number of common pages.

Today's topic is volunteerism and how it impacts the quality of life here. The publication appears as the third section of the newspaper. These quarterly special reports will collectively be branded as the Community Builder series.

Future offerings will include "Going Green," "Up and Coming Leaders," and "Building Healthy Communities." After that we're open to suggestions on tropics of interest.

Why a Community Builder series in the first place?

Weekly newspapers have thrived over the years by providing unique, local information and niche products. Much of our news is good news, but sometimes we do fail to tell the stories of the citizens who are building community.

When we do tell these stories, it rarely is in an in-depth manner. This is why perhaps the subject of volunteerism is appropriate for our first special report. People who give freely of their time and talent are part of the core human resources of a healthy community.

The Community Builder series is intended to highlight the positive reasons people choose to live here.  We intend to tell more of the stories about people doing wonderful work to make this a better place to live.

These are the stories about people we often routinely take for granted.  In short, we want to tell you about the people who truly are community builders.

These are tougher times and we are not oblivious to the pain people suffer from a job loss, foreclosure or the erosion of our state's social safety net.

These problems are real. These problems are felt directly by families in Detroit Lakes.

Still, it may be time to count our blessings. We are bombarded with hundreds of negative messages every day.  Most of these problems, real and perceived,  have much less impact here than in heavily populated areas. Those that have local impact likely will self-correct in time.

The reality is the majority of us still have a fairly good life, bolstered by the health of our community, for which we are grateful.  Our town remains an attractive place to live.  Not just because of our wonderful natural resources, but also because of the many, many ordinary people doing extraordinary things here.

We're hoping these reports give us all an attitude. A very proud and appreciative attitude.