Why I love Albert Lea

Published 12:26 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2017

By Lana Howe

Lana Howe works for Freeborn County Family Services Collaborative. She enjoys coaching softball and basketball, singing in the Albert Lea Community Choir Cantori and volunteering. She loves to travel and spend quality time with her family and friends.

While I have visited a few different communities in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Washington, D.C.— no matter the time spent in each place, in the end, there is one place that calls me home every time — Albert Lea. This is where I feel comfortable and accepted. This is where good things happen to me. This is where — and I know there are a lot of people who find this absolutely nuts — I can breathe.

There are many reasons people choose to live places, just to name a few: family, career, location or a sense of connection. For me, Albert Lea has given me all of these things.

In Albert Lea, I’m surrounded by people who share similar values. When you find the community that’s right for you, you surround yourself with people who care about the same things, share the same ideas and are co-creating similar projects. Your neighbors become people who have so much in common with you that you look forward to talking to them and getting to know them to build a relationship. That’s true “Minnesota nice!”

Albert Lea has shown me how welcoming and friendly it is — another reason why I think this city is great. From the conversations and the experiences I’ve had, residents view this community as a good place for them no matter who they are: Young or old, single, families with children, young adults without children, even young, talented college graduates looking for work.

The possibilities are endless here, you just have to be willing to get out and explore! Be willing to try something new. Whether it’s hanging out around a bonfire or playing a sport, there’s always someone or a group of people doing something fun.

Albert Lea offers many arts and cultural opportunities, as well as social community events. A community’s aesthetics are important — Albert Lea hits it out of the park or “parks,” I should say. This city has over 25 of them! They’re all a bit different, yet provide for the people — from water scenes to disc golf, fun for kids on playgrounds or basketball courts. Then, there is number of trails we have in and around our community. From walking, biking, hiking, snowmobile and even the Shell Rock River State Water Trail. These sum up the most powerful driver of community attachment — the literal statement when it comes to “The Land Between The Lakes.”

Being surrounded by people with similar values creates space for sharing. We are fortunate to have strong Park and Recreation Programs, Community Education class offerings, the Freeborn County Historical Museum, programs like 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and many more. Helmer-Myre State Park provides the opportunity to get out and explore the good ole’ outdoors, learn about nature and study history of the land. It is a community focused on more than just learning in a classroom but at the same time, a community offering public K-12 education and a central location on the map to the top 10 Minnesota universities.

The more involved I get involved in the community, the more I learn to love it — work, play and by volunteering. I want to give back what others have given to me. We are a reflection of our community. Lots of things affect how we feel about where we live, like how it looks or what there is to do. We can take part in all of that — volunteer.

I want others to feel that Albert Lea allows them to breathe.

So while I’ll continue to venture out and explore other communities, Albert Lea will always be my home sweet home.