News & Media

Incourage eNews: December 2015

Tue. Dec 29, 2015

Incourage eNews is a monthly email providing readers an update on a variety of Incourage related news, current work and impact in our community. Please share and invite your friends to contact us ([email protected] or 715.423.3863) to be added to the distribution.

Resident Profile – Mee Yang
Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at UW-Milwaukee didn’t stop Port Edwards and Wisconsin Rapids native Mee Yang from attending Tribune Building Project meetings.

Mee has been involved with the Project for almost a year. It appealed to her because she wanted to get more involved with her hometown, and appreciated that it aimed to be inclusive of all voices and diversity in the area. “The Tribune Building Project is resident-centered, giving all of us a voice in shaping what goes into the building, as well as having far-reaching benefits expanding beyond the building’s walls and into the community,” Mee shared.

To Mee, the Tribune process is engaging because it’s interest-based and resident-driven, but in an organized fashion. “We have all mumbled from time to time about how this area could be better, so now is the time to step up to the plate to take a swing and make things happen. If not us, then who? If not now, then when?
The meetings opened dialogue for Mee with fellow residents whom she would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. Through the meetings, she could have extensive conversation about common interests and a shared vision. “It was exciting to see that everyone desired not just to see the city restored to its former glory, but to surpass it.”

Living as a newlywed in Eau Claire will make attending future Tribune engagement opportunities a bit more difficult, but that’s just another reason to visit her hometown or stay connected via Facebook, tribunebuilding.org, and the upcoming online community platform. One of Mee’s greatest hopes for our community is not only seeing the Tribune Building Project through successfully, but also using it as a building block to achieve more together in the future.

Energy education extravaganza
Project “BEEP” is coming to several area middle and high schools, complete with renewable energy education and Solar Olympics! For the third consecutive year, Incourage’s Business Education Partnership received a $45,000 grant from Constellation℠ Energy. This grant will expand solar photovoltaic installations to area middle schools and provide high school students the opportunity to earn scholarships to attend one of Mid-State’s three renewable energy programs. Find out more about Project “BEEP” and read the full story here!

Economic Development Training for a 21st Century Adaptive Economy 
Earlier this year, Incourage launched “Blueprints for Tomorrow”, a multi-year training program designed to build a strong, local, sustainable economy. “Blueprints” provides coaching, network building, adaptive skill development, and inclusive community economic development practices for six key community institutions currently involved in projects that intersect or have the potential to be made stronger through collaboration: City of Wisconsin Rapids; Wood County; John E. Alexander South Wood County YMCA; Central Rivers Farmshed; Wisconsin Rapids Housing Authority; and Incourage. With support from the USDA, the training is delivered by national content experts and is designed to accelerate community change among institutions to support an entrepreneurial culture shaped by resident participation. Visit the new Blueprints page on our website to become more familiar with the program and its benefits.

Mary Wirtz’s retirement
It is the combination of attitude, commitment, love for people and this place that has made Mary Wirtz a core part of Incourage for the past 17 years. Now, Mary has decided to transition into the next phase of her life – retirement. She will enjoy spending more time with her family, grandchildren, and dad. Consider joining us in honoring Mary and thanking her for her commitment to our community by donating to the Tribune Building Fund or Future Fund at Incourage. The community is a better place, Incourage is a stronger institution, and we are all better people for having had the opportunity to know and work with Mary. Wishing you all the best in retirement!

Art in action
In 2014, Incourage received an ArtPlace America grant to integrate permanent interior and exterior art installations in the Tribune Building. The grant supports seven unique projects in the Tribune. Each tells an important story of our community’s heritage. Now, the artists’ work is taking shape and they’re engaging residents. Watch this video to learn about some of the projects!

August Kochanowski, one of the selected artists, has been kept busy by more than just creating steel handrails depicting cranberry bogs for installation in the Tribune Building. Through a partnership between August and the local art educators also participating in the ArtPlace grant, students have visited the Kochanowski blacksmith studio in Junction City to learn about his art form. You can see examples in the above video. Stay tuned for information about a community open house at the Kochanowski Studio and other opportunities in early 2016!


Another ArtPlace artist, Wisconsin Rapids native Jonathon Engelien, recently launched a blog to chronicle his artistic process and engage the community in how it views and identifies with south Wood County. Incourage CEO Kelly Ryan highlights this in her most recent blog. Take a few minutes to read both her blog and Jonathon’s.

Holiday Wishes
We at Incourage are grateful for the many gifts that you have shared with us in 2015 to help work toward our vision of a community that works well for all. Through your support – with gifts of both time and resources – you continue to show your commitment to and hope for our community. We wish you a healthy, happy holiday season and a wonderful year ahead.

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© December 29, 2015
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 Tribune, which demonstrates Incourage’s resident-centered approach to growing a strong and inclusive local economy. To learn more, visit incouragecf.org.

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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.