(Note to our readers: This column is part of continuing series from a blog recently started by a loosely knit independent group of area business people and residents who love and want to promote the energy and enthusiasm of downtown St. Joseph. We’ll be running their weekly Friday blog post here. The author today is SJU intern, John Stevens, who will be providing a weekly column through April. You can find the weekly posts at www.joetownvibe.com.)
John Stevens, Intern, SJU ‘18
The vibe of St. Joseph and of the College of St. Benedict comes from a positive codependency with each other. Without the college, the town vibe would simply not be as energetic, and we know without the city, CSB would be an isolated island in the prairie. The college community collaborates with citizens of St. Joseph on exciting endeavors such as the food co-op and college students provide an energy level like no other to their town neighbors in social settings. Students at CSB often partake in community events such as the Millstream Arts Festival that takes place downtown every September, and citizens of St. Joseph are gifted with all the wonderful events and opportunities the college provides. This vibe is, of course, in addition to the economic impacts the college has on our city.
The mere presence of hundreds of students studying, preparing themselves for their careers, is quite inspirational and may even motivate others around the college. Students become engaged in community enhancement projects such as a political science course proposed recently. Various tactical urbanism projects to improve the city at little to no cost were researched and presented to the City Council. Those of us who live in St. Joseph during the summer recognize the catapult of energy that lands here each late August as a new school year begins with the students’ return.
The college contributes to the vibe of the community in ways the city couldn’t accomplish on its own. The diverse and expansive offerings of events happening on campus, which are often open to the public, contribute to the exciting vibe. From musicals, to concerts and sporting events, the college is constantly offering events that give residents an inordinate amount of opportunities. Whether it’s an orchestra concert, St. Benedict basketball game or a musical, there are events to please almost everyone. A city of this size could rarely claim access to events, speakers, musicians and artists of the caliber the college brings, happening almost every night. Many days the campus performing and visual arts offerings exceed what’s available in St. Cloud. Keeping citizens in St. Joseph as a part of their social life helps build and strengthen the community even more, as neighbors become more familiar with each other when they attend local events.
The financial contributions CSB makes to this area cannot be underestimated, from faculty to security to culinary work, the college offers various openings and employs many St. Joseph residents. Conversely, the city provides flexible, varied and temporary jobs to students who want to work off campus. Visitors to the college help support local businesses that might not be able to thrive without that consistent flow of outsiders coming here to visit the campus, in this way enhancing offerings for residents. With every event, more people visit St. Joseph and patronize the businesses across the city.
St. Joseph is not St. Joseph without the College of St. Benedict, and vice versa. The two provide each other with so much. The college contributes greatly to the vibe of St. Joseph as it brings a certain energy and motivation to the community, while the city and citizens provide the college and students with a welcoming place to call home. St. Joseph and the College of St. Benedict, in a sense, are one in the same.