Member spotlight: Rethos: Places Reimagined
Q&A with Kelly Fischer, Outreach and Education Coordinator at Rethos: Places Reimagined
Click here for a video of the interview.
RM | Briefly describe what Rethos specializes in.
Rethos is a regional nonprofit, with the mission to lead and inspire people to connect to places promoting community vitality. On the ground level, what we do is advocate for state and federal policies that make building reuse easier. We work with rural communities to revitalize their historic downtown district, and we teach people how to take care of old buildings.
RM | What is one project that Rethos coordinated, that truly brought together a community?
One of my favorite projects that Rethos coordinated recently was the Otter Tail County story mapping project, which was done in partnership with Otter Tail County Historical Society and the Springboard for the Arts. Back in 2020, residents were asked to submit different stories from their community and they came in a variety of forms from oral history to photos, to trivia contests, to documentaries. Ultimately 15 projects were chosen to be put on an online map where you can access all of those stories in whatever form that they come in. In addition to that, each story had eligibility for funding. Over $30,000 was invested in Otter Tail County itself. You can find the story mapping project on our website at rethos.org and check out all of these excellent stories.
RM | Tell us more about the Minnesota Main Streets program.
Rethos is the coordinating organization for Minnesota Main Street, which is the state chapter of the National Main Street Program. It's an asset based economic development program that uses historic preservation as a core strategy to revitalize downtowns. It's about revitalizing districts for the people who are living and working in them now. A thriving downtown has a powerful impact in the community, and that's why Rethos is proud to oversee the Minnesota Main Street program. We help towns and small cities maximize both their people and build assets for economic vitality.
RM | How is reuse important in your line of work?
At our core, Rethos is very passionate about reusing and restoring old buildings. When you reuse an old building, you keep that demolition waste out of the landfill, but you also preserve and continue the stories and culture of a given place. When a building does have to be demolished, we can salvage the building materials from it, like old growth lumber and hardware and whatever we can get and use it in a new build or put it in an existing building that needs some replacements. Reuse is very important in our field.
RM | How does being a Reuse Minnesota member align with your business mission?
Reuse Minnesota works with and connects us with many of the very valuable organizations that are doing work in the areas of deconstruction, material, salvage and general reuse. And so we see them as a super valuable asset in actually completing the work that we have set out to do at Rethos.
RM | Where is Rethos located?
Rethos is in the process of transitioning its St. Paul office to a different space, but we do have a Winona office and we do offer lots of classes, in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota area. In the Twin Cities, we offer classes at the Minnesota tool libraries, Hayes, window restoration and a variety of homes, uh, with homeowners that have been gracious enough to allow us to host classes there. Uh, we also host classes in central Minnesota in Saint Cloud-Sauk Rapids area and we'll be offering more classes soon in the southeast part of the state. So we hope to see you there!
Rethos: Places Reimagined