Work on "Great Place Race" sites under way around community

Moving Matters and the Cook County Chamber of Commerce have announced the winners of the “Great Place Race.” Over 25 local businesses, nonprofits, and individuals submitted creative ideas from across Cook County and Grand Portage. A total of $11,930 in grants will be awarded to 16 recipients to help create great places within our communities.

The Great Place Race is a friendly, local competition for mini-grants to use high impact, low cost ideas to create great places in our communities.

Moving Matters Coordinator Kristin DeArruda Wharton said, “A great place is inviting, beautiful, and catches the eye. It reflects the unique character and identity of the community. And a great place encourages people to slow down and spend time there.

“We know that people will be active where they have pleasant and safe places to do so. The Great Place Race is a really fun opportunity to put small seed grants into the hands of local organizations and businesses who are making our community more inviting and fun for people to get out and enjoy,” said DeArruda Wharton.  “Not only will The Great Place Race funding showcase the region's amenities, it will encourage residents to walk and bike more, which will improve health and thereby help to reduce the medical and financial costs associated with inactivity and poor health.”

Jim Boyd of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce added, “How delightful it is to see so much interest in making our Cook County community just a little more pleasant and fun. It shows just how beloved this ‘Great Place’ is, which, of course, is the whole point: We love it, so we take care of it, take time to enjoy it and welcome others to enjoy it, too.  Aesthetics are not fluff; a beautiful place adds immeasurably to the quality of our lives and the quality of the experience we offer visitors. We hope this movement toward a more active and beautiful Cook County continues to grow and be embraced by all.” 

Grant Recipients

* Art House B&B: Four little free libraries across Cook County and Grand Portage

* Art ‘Round Town: Mounting of the student-created glass mosaic mural on Johnson’s Grocery

* Birch Grove Foundation: Gathering area around hearth oven with seating, garden, and information board

* Como Oil and Propane: Mural by local artists on propane tank/dispenser at Grand Marais office

* Cook County Tennis Association: Bench seating at public tennis courts in Grand Marais

* Cook County Whole Foods Co-op: Bench seating in front of Co-op and picnic tables behind building

* Grand Portage Health Services: Athletic equipment for a borrowing bank with Community Center

* Grand Marais Art Colony: Outdoor seating area, built and decorated by local artists Peter Jenson and Kelly Dupre

* Grand Marais Garden Club: Reclaiming and planting of the triangle off 1st Street East in Grand Marais

* Gunflint Lodge: Destination with seating and plantings along South Gunflint Lake Road

* Joy Enterprises LLC: Installation of courtyard fence, bike rack, and items for play (Hula Hoops and stilts)

* Northwoods Food Project: Expansion of children’s garden at Cook County Community Center, with straw bale gardening demonstration

* Schroeder Township: Wheelchair accessible picnic area at park near Father Baraga Cross

* Town of Tofte: Bike racks and wheelchair accessible picnic area at Tofte Town Park

* Trinity Lutheran Church: Bench under a canopy of pines, addition of picnic area, and signage for Trinity Trails and gathering area.

* WTIP Community Radio: ‘Rest Stop’ off trail with seating, plantings, and little free library

The Great Place Race is sponsored by the Moving Matters project of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and the Cook County Chamber of Commerce. The Moving Matters project, with funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota's Center for Prevention, is working to create safer and more accessible places to walk and bike in Cook County and Grand Portage.