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“The Rebirth of a Town”

A documentary film created in 2016 by 18 year old Lanesboro student Olivia O. through the support of the Smithsonian Institute's Museum on Main Street Program.

This story is elegantly summed up in the question asked at the beginning: “What caused the transformation of Lanesboro from its semi-neglected state to the vibrant town it is today?” Residents’ recollections of Lanesboro in the 1970s and 80s are interspersed with the transformation of the Root River State Trail, from railroad line to outdoor recreation attraction. Though controversial in the 1980s, locals credit the Trail with revitalizing the area. Olivia interviewed around 12 people who remembered the old railroad that ran through town where the current trail is and people who were both in favor and against constructing the trail. Lanesboro and its thriving arts community are highlighted as a model for economic regeneration in other small towns, especially those in Southeastern Minnesota.

The process, Olivia said, was lengthy, but she learned a lot about herself. “Apart from learning the technical skills of documentary making, I developed a deeper appreciation, feeling of belonging, and investment in my community and its future,” she said. “I still look back on the entire process of making these documentaries and think, ‘Man, I did that!’”

 

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