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Nordby: Reinforcing Monroe’s Foundation
Jordan Nordby
Jordan Nordby

My younger brother, David, is the editor of a paper outside of Appleton. Much to my relief, he will sometimes proofread these columns before they are submitted. When I told him I would be sharing that, his quip was, “so much for my anonymity.” Several months ago, he gave me feedback that reminded me he is quite forthright: “they are all sort of the same.” Being forthright is a great thing for his professional life, but also slightly annoying to his older brother. 

The feedback has stuck with me. Perhaps, at first, as a concern about my writing, but, more recently, as a reminder of the work I do and the common thread. But what exactly is that? Both personally and professionally, I appreciate nuance. And I make a concerted effort to highlight that when I get the chance. But all of that nuance still falls under building and maintaining community. 

As I write this, I cannot help but wonder if David and I share values that we have not really ever discussed. Our communities are different, and geographically at least three hours apart. We both have established ourselves in smaller communities. While never the intent, it is a natural and rewarding fit. What continues to make an impression on me is that in Monroe there is a sense of camaraderie. It is more important to be friendly. You look after people and they look after you. The start of this year has reaffirmed that for me. 

The bigger somewhere is, the less it focuses on local. Local in the sense of your neighbors and in the sense of personal ties. It feels like they have disappeared nationally and that is because they largely have. But they still exist here in Monroe. Local ownership means that we still care. There is a different relationship when the community owns and knows itself. We are responsible for things that are a part of us. And the examples downtown are innumerable. 

It starts with the foundation. Monroe has had a foundation and has been reinforcing it for decades. That has allowed all of us to understand how we and our work connect to others’. My hope and expectation is that Main Street Monroe is one of just many ways that residents are able and encouraged to participate. And that participation comes from different motivations. We do not want to just lay bricks, we want to build. 

We officially announced this weekend our capital campaign project to build a pocket park with public restrooms downtown. This community is allowing us, and certainly myself, to seek new learning and stretch skills. My hope is that we are continually developing and that our community is progressing, as well. Once complete, the project will provide many things. It will fulfill these hopes and it will bolster the sense of community, from being an actual place and focusing on health to providing everyone the opportunity to leave something behind for their families by helping make the project a reality. It is for the community. 

So, yes, I will admit that all these columns are sort of the same. But how fortunate to be writing about and working on reinforcing and being a part of the community. Especially when this month it is about a legacy project that means we can all leave something for the people and place we care about.

— Jordan Nordby is the executive director for Main Street Monroe. He can be reached at Complete details on Main Street Monroe and its efforts can be found at