A Small Town Has Big Ideas

by Laureen on April 11, 2012

Prairie Wind & Silver Sage (Photo: Robert W. Harwood)

In Val Marie there’s an active, far-thinking museum with big ideas. It’s called Prairie Wind & Silver Sage – Friends of Grasslands. The museum has functioned successfully for a number of years but in the last few has grown in exciting directions. Now Prairie Wind is also a gift shop with high quality Grasslands-related memories for sale, one of Saskatchewan’s last independent bookstores with a focus on Prairie authors and stories, an espresso bar, and several art exhibition spaces. All these services are offered in the summer season from May to September, and PWSS usually sees approximately 3,500 visitors in those months each year.

But Prairie Wind & Silver Sage is looking forward to even more. With information and ideas from Dr. Glenn Sutter, Curator of Human Ecology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, PWSS is planning to transform its museum into an ecomuseum, with goals of fostering a culture of sustainability and bringing people together to make informed, fair, and democratic decisions about their local cultural and natural heritage.

According to Glenn, who recently came to PWSS in Val Marie and gave a workshop on the ecomuseum model to representatives from southwest Saskatchewan museums, an ecomuseum is a different sort of museum that tries to foster a sense of place, local participation, and local, community development. Sutter added that ecomuseums “understand today, based on the past, and apply this understanding to help their communities respond to change.”

As Chair of the Prairie Wind and Silver Sage Board of Directors, I make PWSS one of my big local commitments. The Val Marie region has a rich cultural and natural history and those of us who live here are proud of it. We have faith in its future as well. This little museum with big ideas looks forward.


Neil Campbell April 12, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Sounds like a terrific idea. Wonderful to be able to engage so deeply with one’s place.

Laureen April 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Neil, your comment is a pure gift. You know how sometimes you get so close to what you’re doing you can’t see it? I had forgotten that engagement is the purpose itself, not the by-product. Thank you!

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