Improv Comedy Explores Community Planning and Health on March 23rd

The Theater of Public Policy

The Theater of Public Policy

What happens when we bring together community members and elected officials, add dinner from the Pie Place, a panel of local experts, and an improv comedy theater company? Find out at “What the Health?! How Do We Plan for Community Vitality?” on March 23rd, presented by the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic. This entertaining, free event will be held at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts in Grand Marais, 5:30 to 8:30 pm on Wednesday, March 23rd. The Theater of Public Policy and local experts will be helping us explore the relationships between health and community planning. How can we create a community in which everyone has a chance to live a long, healthy life?

“We thought it would be fun to create an event where people can explore the idea of community planning and health in conversations over dinner and through an improv comedy show. And it’s March, so we are all feeling a little cabin fever! The Theater of Public Policy fits the bill to keep it lighthearted and entertaining while delving into real issues and solutions,” said Kristin Wharton, Coordinator of the Moving Matters project at the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic.

Local government and community groups have a lot of influence over the factors that create a healthy community, whether or not it is always apparent. In the communities around us, factors such as housing, transportation, and land use can have a significant impact on our health. “What the Health?!” is an opportunity to explore the ways that we can use the tools available to promote the safety, health, and welfare of our community: be it through city ordinance, county plan, tribal food program, school initiatives, or other means.

The Theater of Public Policy is Minnesota’s favorite (and only) civics-inspired improv comedy company and will be making its first appearance in Cook County on March 23rd. The Theater of Public Policy is a unique forum meant to bring hard “thinky stuff” to life on stage. It’s ‘Meet the Press’ meets ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’.

As we gear up for this fun event, be sure to keep an eye out around the county for the #ThisIsHealth posters to see some ways we are already creating health in our communities. Come to the event on the 23rd with other examples in mind of how we can create health in our community outside of the health facilities.

This is a free event; dinner and child care will be provided. Please reserve your spot by contacting Hartley Newell-Acero, or 218-387-2330 x163, including the number of children for the childcare option at the YMCA. “What the Health?!” is presented by the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic’s Moving Matters project, with planning assistance from the Active Living Steering Committee. Funding for this project is provided by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with additional support from the Bush Foundation. Learn more about the Bush Foundation on March 24th at their lunch event at North House.

Originally printed in the Cook County News-Herald.

Download the ‘What the Health?!’ Flyer here.

Walk to School Day: Wed, October 21st

walking school bus contact
The Safe Routes to School Committee works year-round to make it safer and easier for children to walk and bike to and from school. Studies have found that physical activity, such as walking or biking to school, allows students to concentrate better during the school day. And while many students in our county do not live in Grand Marais, many walk or bike to an after-school destination in Grand Marais. At the start of the school year, Slow Down lawn signs, an additional speed feedback sign, school zone speed enforcement, and a new school entry design at ISD 166 were all at work reminding our community that school has started and drive carefully to keep students safe. This coming Wednesday (October 21st) will be the second Walk to School Day, with three routes of Walking School Buses in Grand Marais.

Walking School Buses are groups of students and adult volunteers walking to school together. The October event will be on Wednesday, October 21st, accompanied by local agents from U.S. Border Patrol. “The Agents from the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Grand Marais are committed to the safety and security of the children in this community. We are proud to be a partner with the Cook County Safe Routes to School Program. The roadways to and from school should always be a ‘safe route’ for children and we hope by taking part in this event it will remind drivers to slow down and be aware of children biking and/or walking to school,” said Matthew Curran, Patrol Agent in Charge, U.S. Border Patrol. Each Walking School Bus stops at ISD 166 and GES on time for school to begin. If your student normally gets a ride to school, come in a little early and walk or bike with the Walking School Bus from one of the starting locations: the Cook County Courthouse (7:30 am departure), Birchwood Apartments (7:40 am departure), or County Road 7 and 7th Ave. East (7:40 am departure). Students are welcome to join along the route or meet at the starting location (see map for routes).

Will your student be walking or rolling to/from school this year? When not participating in a Walking School Bus, it is recommended that you pick a route with your child and test is out together. Once a student and parent/guardian set a route, it is best that the student follows it consistently so that an adult knows where the student is traveling. *Please note that the Safe Routes to School group, Minnesota Department of Health, and Statewide Health Improvement Program work together to encourage walking and bicycling to school, but do not ensure safety or assume liability for anyone’s commute to or from school.

Cook County Safe Routes to School (SRTS) strives to improve the health of kids and our community by making walking and bicycling to school safer, easier, and more enjoyable. In addition to coordinating Walking School Bus days in the fall and spring, SRTS also offers the annual bike rodeo in the spring, in-school 3rd grade bike education, and works to create safer routes with improved pedestrian and bicyclist infrastructure, crossing guard equipment, and community signage (“Slow Down & Smile! Kids on the Move!”).

For more information about Safe Routes to School, to volunteer, or for a Slow Down lawn sign, contact SRTS Coordinator, Maren Webb, at 218-387-2330 or

Originally published in the Cook County News-Herald.