Imagine Grinnell, a non-profit organization dedicated to “[improving] the quality of life” in Grinnell, hosted its fourth annual “Grinnell’s Got Talent” fundraiser auction at Prairie Canary Monday night. While cocktail parties aren’t a normal occurrence on Main Street, quite a few Grinnellians turned out to Imagine Grinnell’s auction to bid on each other’s talents and products, all the while raising money for various Grinnell community programs.
Originally “Grinnell 2000,” Imagine Grinnell is a non-profit community group dedicated to promoting a vibrant, healthy and environmentally-conscious city.
“Imagine Grinnell has three pillars: green, play and grow. The first has to do with making Grinnell environmentally friendly, the second with promoting activity, as we do with our bike trails and the third focuses mainly on community gardening,” said Imagine Grinnell Executive Director Sarah Smith.
In the auction, community members volunteered a talent, such as cooking a meal or offering music lessons, to be bid on by their neighbors.
“It has the dual purpose of both raising money for our projects and showcasing the talents and skills of the people of Grinnell,” Smith said. This year the talents ranged from an authentic Austrian dinner, complete with wine and blue-ribbon-winning chocolate torte, to a guided hike around the Conard Environmental Research Area.
Some auction items were more popular than others, but there were diverse enough items to appeal to all types of attendees.
“I’m going to bid on the bacon-wrapped ribs and the smoked turkey,” said local resident Paul Pohlson when asked which items most attracted him. The three sets of ribs and turkey were popular at the auction. The real heavy hitters, however, were the Austrian dinner and an “Around the World” wine tour hosted by the new wine bar, Solera. Both of the items went for upwards of 600 dollars.
While Smith couldn’t officially comment on the amount raised at the time of the interview, she confirmed that it was similar to last year’s total of 10,000 dollars. “Not bad for one night!” she added.
This year, the money will go to several of the projects that Imagine Grinnell funds. One project is a natural playscape being built in Summer Street Park. While Imagine Grinnell has hired a professional designer for the project, all the labor is being provided by the community. The first build date was in late August, the second one is coming up on Friday, Oct. 3, from 1 to 5 p.m. and the third one will be on Saturday, Oct. 4 from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m.
Smith was enthusiastic about the possibility of Grinnell students helping out at the site and expressed that it would be a great way for students to become active with Imagine Grinnell and the community as a whole.
Other projects that Imagine Grinnell hosts or co-sponsors include a community seed library, gardening workshops, various water conservation efforts and the creation of the Grinnell Area Recreation Trail, which is used for community bike rides and runs. When asked about which Imagine Grinnell projects they are most passionate about, residents Pohlson and Seth Kite both agreed that the Grinnell Area Recreation Trail was a favorite.
“It’s probably what I utilize most, going out to Rock Creek, and even up here to Walmart,” Kite said.
When asked how she thought the night went, Smith commented that the night succeeded in raising both money and awareness for Imagine Grinnell. Next year’s event will be very similar to this year’s, but with more efforts put into media attention.
Right now, however, Smith has her eyes set on the construction of the new playscape and the numerous other community efforts that this money will enable Imagine Grinnell to accomplish. Through these efforts, Smith hopes that Grinnell will find its place as a green, active and thriving city.