News & Media

Kelly Ryan: People – our most important asset

Fri. Dec 11, 2015

People make communities. At Incourage, we believe human capital is our greatest asset and that positive community change happens through individuals realizing their full potential, recognizing their interdependence with one another and engaging in honest, respectful dialogue about our shared future. Individuals who are willing to reflect, learn and grow, start important conversations, and build relationships are the real change agents.

It is particularly heartening to see young adults who care about this place. Young adults who are making positive change happen.

Although I could give you many examples, today I will share just one that recently inspired me:

In his blog posted December 1, former resident Jonathon Engelien penned an authentic and heartfelt expression of his connection to Wisconsin Rapids. In his words, “You’re so much more than an aged paper mill town. You’re a place where real people develop lives and experiences … I want to care about you, I do care about you, and I want other people to feel the same way.”


Not only did Jonathon grow up here, he is also one of seven artists selected to work on permanent art installations for the renovated Tribune Building through the ArtPlace America grant Incourage received in 2014. This initial blog post officially kicked off Jonathon’s artistic process to engage the community in how it views and identifies with the south Wood County area, in positive, neutral or negative ways.

His blog struck a chord with more than 2,800 readers, prompting an online response and dialogue. This kind of open, honest communication is helping us talk about our past and future; our individual and shared experiences; and our challenges and opportunities. People care. It is that deep compassion for one another and commitment to this place that brings forth positive community change.


Celebrating our assets, understanding our journey and working together to realize a shared vision of the future are all elements of Jonathon’s story. It is his story, though. Each of us has a story and an experience.

Take a few minutes to read Jonathon’s blog, read the comments and join the conversation.


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  • About Incourage

    Established in rural Wisconsin in 1994 to serve the changing needs of the south Wood County area, Incourage has become a nationally-recognized leader in place-based philanthropy and community development. Guided by values of equity, opportunity, and shared stewardship, Incourage envisions a community that works well for all people. One physical manifestation of this vision is the redevelopment of the Tribune building, which demonstrates Incourage’s user-centered approach to growing a strong and inclusive local economy.