Imaginative Fields: A Companion to Action


Author/Creator ORCID





MA in Cultural Sustainability

Citation of Original Publication


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This creative nonfiction essay uses public narrative framework (story of self, story of us, story of now) to intertwine cultural sustainability leadership theory with a practical case study of community organizing through the arts in a rural Minnesota town. The main topic explored in this essay is the Fergus Falls State Hospital (or "The Kirkbride Building”), a century old, abandoned mental institution that closed in 2006 and has faced the wrecking ball for the last eight years. Using Cantwell’s concept of an “imaginative field,” where it is possible to “exercise our cultural rights,” this paper explores the role of community participation in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and how artists, preservationists, mental health advocates and activists have come together on an initiative called “Imagine Fergus Falls,” funded by the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program, to bring the significance of the Kirkbride Building to the front and center of preservation and redevelopment.