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Rhinelander youth plaza and skate park one of nine projects selected nationally for One Nation, One Project initiative


Rhinelander is one of nine communities in the U.S. selected for the first round of the One Nation, One Project initiative.

Its goal is to support and promote projects that focus on the arts while also leading to a healthier community.

One Nation, One Projectis founded on the idea that when communities come together to create art, it can lead to healthier communities.

“When we talk about health we’re talking about mental health. We’re also talking about social cohesion and communities feeling stronger together. We’re also talking about physical health. We’re talking about emotional and spiritual wellbeing as well,” said Tyler Thomas, associate artistic director for One Nation, One Project.

She says most folks likely don’t think of art and health as intrinsically connected, but she strongly believes that artistic participation leads to a healthier life.

“I think if most people were to survey their lives, they would see that they have a creative interest or form of expression that’s critical to them getting through their day. Be it I’m a sewer, or I’m a singer, or I’m a gardener, or I’m a painter,” said Thomas. “So really what we’re hoping to bring to life through this project is really what we see as kind of an innate reality about us as humans on this earth, that creative expression, that arts participation. Particularly for the way in which it brings people together is really essential for strong communities that are healthy and thriving.”

The initial nine sites chosen for the project include big cities like Chicago and Providence, Rhode Island.

Rhinelander was chosen for its youth plaza and skate park project.

“I think we were just really excited that it seemed like the youth in Rhinelander spurring this really creative, innovative way of engaging with city officials, engaging with adults in their community to make sure they were heard and then also make their community better in the way that they wanted to make change. We were just really, really excited to see that happen,” said Georgia Gempler, the National League of Cities Senior Program Specialist. The National League of Cities is working with One Nation, One Project.

Through the initiative, ArtStart, the teens and young adults from Over It, Marshfield Clinic and others involved in the project will get support from One Nation, One Project as well as the other communities in their cohort.

“The idea is that each of these communities has a team locally that get to learn from one another, so you get that national perspective, but also working locally to expand the number of people and relationships interested in your local project,” said Gempler. “We’re here to support the local efforts of ArtStart, and the City of Rhinelander, and the Over It group and also expand horizons in a way of, ‘How do the arts and health relate? What can that look like in Rhinelander?’”

Gempler and Thomas were part of a small group from One Nation, One Project touring Rhinelander this week.

The groups will work together over the next two years.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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