When we moved to Eden Prairie in 1977 it appeared the community was lacking a sense of community. Don’t get me wrong – as a country boy it was apparent to me that this had been a wonderful rural community. You can read about that at the Library or City Hall in Helen Holden Anderson’s “Eden Prairie-The First 100 Years”.
But when we came, Eden Prairie had no Post Office or Zip Code.
We shared those like a weak sibling with Hopkins, where I drove every week to mail our church newsletter. Our town was rapidly and wonderfully growing and developing. It was following Community Planner Don Brauer’s and the City Council’s excellent 1967 Comprehensive Guide Plan. But, conversation about the community still repeatedly included the fact that we had a new shopping center but no downtown or main street.
So how are we doing now?
It has been 42 years since Anderson’s writing project with the Historical Society. its been 54 years since Brauer’s planning project with the City Council.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but I feel ‘community’ when I observe public health actions. People wearing masks, watching their distance, washing hands, and neighbors taking walks in the neighborhood and on local trails. But, that same longed for feeling flees from my heart when I see super-spreader gatherings on TV putting whole neighborhoods, whole communities and, indeed, the whole world at risk!
That said, stay with me.
Community, what is it?
I believe ‘community’ is something you can sense in our city with all five senses. You can see it and hear it in every relationship, smell it and taste it all around the table. You can even reach out and touch community because it’s a palpable feeling!
Community is the outcome of the conjunction the happens when we take what we have in common and put it together with the goal of unity. And I believe we have done and will continue to do a great job fulfilling that goal – creating a sense of healthy strong community.
Sense it in every school building and house of worship, in athletic teams and business teams, in civic organizations and service organizations and in child care centers and in the senior living residence where I’m Chaplain! Feel it when you give thanks for this ‘eden on the prairie’ where we can live and learn, play and pray with and for the wellbeing of all – expressed in each and every petition!
From Jesus’ parting prayer for ‘oneness’ in John’s 17th Chapter to the Hebrew Shema in Deuteronomy 6 to the Universal Prayers from Major Religions of the World that you can find with Google, we must constantly open the door and make room for all humanity to experience community!
A sense of community is based and built on a firm foundation. This week on Thursday 4/29 our own Eden Prairie Community Foundation (EPCF) gathers virtually, celebrating 40 years of philanthropy, collaboration and leadership. No wonder the word ‘community’ is sandwiched there between Eden Prairie and Foundation. Visit epcommunityfoundation.org, not only for information about attending virtually for free, but also to alert all your senses to experience community wherever you come and go in our city!
And, by the way, a good news resource like the one you’re reading right now plays a big role informing that sense of community for which we all yearn! Thanks to the EPCF for helping EP Local News get its start!
Editor’s note: The author, Pr. Rod Anderson (retired) served as a Pastor at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie for over 34-years. Anderson also serves as a volunteer on the EPLN Working Group board.
The Eden Prairie Local News (EPLN) serves the people of Eden Prairie and broadly supports and invites the free expression of religious traditions and spiritual perspectives of the community.