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History

The need for a project like Civic West grew out of conversations among a small group of residents of West Fargo who shared an interest in increasing communication in the community. We all felt that the city’s rapid growth has led to a disconnection among residents from each other and from their government. It was difficult to know what was happening locally and how to participate. We felt there was a gap in the community that needed to be filled.

The inspiration for filling the gap came from other projects showcased at the annual Knight Foundation Media Forum in Miami in February of 2023. The forum featured nonprofit organizations that have blossomed around the country to meet the information and engagement needs of their communities. CivicLex, founded by Richard Young, is one such project in Lexington, Kentucky.

A steering committee of West Fargo residents representing major community partners was assembled, and other partners were approached. Partners have included the League of Women Voters, AARP North Dakota, West Fargo Area Community Program (WFACP), West Fargo Public Schools, Humanities North Dakota, North Dakota State University, the City of West Fargo, and the West Fargo Public Library. With AARP and WFACP as sponsors, the steering committee planned a public launch for September 27 and 28, 2023. Richard Young was invited to be the keynote speaker.

Young’s appearance on the program had to be modified because a sudden illness that meant he couldn’t attend in person, but he did appear on video for his presentation, and he joined us virtually for a discussion among community partners the following day. Watch Richard Young’s presentation here.

Motivated by enthusiasm from the public and partners, the Civic West steering committee has been laying the groundwork for programming by creating a website, publishing a monthly newsletter, and organizing committees like the Fire Hall Chats Committee to plan and present programming. Strengthen ND has awarded Civic West two part-time AmeriCorps positions that began in May of 2024. The national printing company 4Imprint awarded Civic West a $500 grant for merchandise, which provided the project free promotional mugs. With support from WFACP, the use of an office has been provided in the West Fargo Highrise apartments at 230 8th Ave. W., West Fargo.

Civic West, with a mission to inform and engage the community of West Fargo, now has a vision and plan to carry it to the next stage, with support from volunteers and community partners. It is filling the civic engagement gaps in West Fargo.

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