By most accounts, Fargo is tiny.
Our predictions of 330,000 people in 26 (long) years are exciting enough to make local headlines. Granted, that’s quite a jump from today’s count of 234,000. But still nowhere near the critical mass typically needed to pull off some of the things Fargo seems to do with ease.
Since breaking ground on the 18-story mixed-used Block 9 project in downtown Fargo, we’ve had a bit of increased interest from national media about the project. Unfailingly, they ask what it takes to bring make such a project happen in a city the size of Fargo.
From wowing the world with our ability to mobilize in a massive flood fight, to drawing attention from national media for our tech scene, our football skills (playing AND cheering), and our eclectic, vibrant downtown, Fargo has a knack for punching above its weight class.
Recently, KPPP-LP 88.1 radio reached out to Kilbourne Group in its fund-raising efforts. This low power FM station that brings diverse music, voices and viewpoints to our local airwaves faced an uphill climb to get established in this region. According to station director Duke Gomez-Schempp, the Federal Communications Commission awarded only 1000 low power FM broadcasting licenses nationwide. The growing diversity of the Fargo-Moorhead community was a key characteristic in being able to secure a license. As a result, Fargo enjoys a station that amplifies voices of many languages and music from around the world.
Fargo is one of nearly 200 communities across the nation to have a local chapter of 1 Million Cups, a weekly presentation fueled by coffee and designed to educate, engage and inspire entrepreneurs around the country. The fact that Fargo does this is cool, but what’s truly impressive is that Fargo’s 1 Million Cups is the most well-attended chapter in the country. As organizer Greg Tehven of Emerging Prairie puts it, “We’re number one.”
Fargo puts itself in impressive company when it comes to being granted a local chapter of CreativeMornings, a national breakfast lecture series for creative communities. From the licensing application: “You’re welcome to apply, but in the past, we typically only accept chapters in cities with a population of over 500,000.” Not even halfway there, that didn’t stop Fargo’s Jeff Knight. With an attitude we like to think of a true Fargo, Jeff says, “I figured even if we were rejected or didn’t qualify, it wasn’t going to stop me from starting something similar anyway, so it’s just a major bonus that we were in fact selected and are able to be a part of CreativeMornings’ global network so people from all over the world can see our talks and hear voices from Fargo next to those from Tokyo, New York, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, etc.”
Jeff certainly tapped into a creative crew hungry for the opportunity. CreativeMornings sold out their first few events and, after moving to larger venue Brewhalla, now max out at 100 people in attendance, blowing many of its big city counterparts out of the water.
Our thriving community of artists and makers throw a huge party each February at the Unglued: Craft Fest, now in its ninth year in downtown Fargo. Last year, the Craft Fest drew more than 5,000 people for the art market, which has a reputation that stretches well beyond our region. Organizer Ashley Morken of Unglued tells us their mission is to “inspire the snot out of our city with a weekend bursting at the seams with creativity.” As a proud sponsor and excited attendees, we say, “Mission accomplished.”
So as Livability magazine recently asked, can we talk about how cool Fargo is? We think it’s pretty cool that our community comes together to support people with big crazy ideas. It’s a community we are thrilled to be a part of.