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Carleton students look to connect campus with Northfield community

Sophomores Maddie Kyhl and Rie Kurita are in the process of creating a new organization to connect Carleton and St. Olaf students with Northfield businesses and community. Motivated in part by the long-winded process of going through the CSA to plan events, coupled with their desire to spend more time outside the Carleton bubble, the pair joined forces after playing laser tag in preparation for being New Student Week Leaders.

“We were on the bus ride and we were just talking about where we’re both from, me from Chicago and Rie from Tokyo and what we would miss,” said Kyhl. “And we just talked about living in Northfield, just like the worries about coming back to Carleton and transitioning from the city.”

Kyhl and Kurita want to ensure that Carls don’t feel like they’re missing out on anything by not being in a city, and instead savor everything Northfield itself has to offer.

“I’ve never felt so isolated or confined to one place as I have living at Carleton in Northfield. We both want to create a more community-centered environment between Carleton and Northfield and feel like we can go off campus,” said Kyhl.

However, one of the primary problems the pair has faced is an issue that many Carleton students face: transportation. Kyhl and Kurita have already spoken to transportation organizations in Northfield, such as Hiawathaland Transit.

“Transportation, and promoting businesses and events; those are our main goals, but it’s been a little bit of a bumpy ride” said Kurita. “The biggest thing right now is the public transportation.”

Without accessible public transportation, it’s difficult for Carleton students to access Northfield businesses, but it’s also difficult for Northfield businesses to access Carleton Students.

“The response has been pretty positive. A lot of businesses have trouble getting to the students and they’re looking for that connection,” said Kyhl. “They’ve tried having certain days with certain deals but that’s not getting students through the door. If you know about something happening but you live in Goodhue and it’s super cold, are you going to go downtown or are you going to stay in your friend’s room all weekend? That’s why transportation is important.”

While Kyhl and Kurita are currently knee-deep in transportation investigating, they’ve also been thinking about about other ways to get the ball rolling with their project.

“To make this happen we really need student support. We want to be sure that other students want this too. We’ve tabled in Sayles and had actual conversations and now we’re thinking about sending out surveys to students,” said Kurita.

Kyhl, a prospective Computer Science major, is thinking about how the organization will work in a digital space.

“We’re planning on making a website where students can go on the website, find out about events and they can accumulate points which can be used to win prizes,” said Kyhl. “Free Domino’s Pizza, things like that, but as we go we want to talk to students about what they want and how these incentives support and stay in the local community,” she added.

At the beginning Kyhl and Kurita were planning on naming their organization MOOV-IT to play on Northfield’s motto: Cows, Colleges, and Contentment. However, issues quickly arose over possible trademark infringement. At this time, the name of the organization is still in the works but the sentiment remains.

“After four years I want to feel like I got to experience Northfield, like I know people and I know this community,” said Kyhl. “Northfield is such a unique town. There’s two colleges here. I think there’s a connection waiting to happen. I don’t want to leave without getting to know it. Four years is a short time but it’s significant enough that you can be impacted by people and make connections. Outside the bubble there’s a lot of opportunities waiting for us.”

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