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Rutabaga Project Coordinator Marlise Riffel talks about the project with Twin Cities Television producer Susan Thao Thursday afternoon.

VIRGINIA — Three regional people were named to a list honoring “exceptional people who are shattering myths about aging and writing their own rules,” as 50 of the most “ inspiring and accomplished leaders from across Minnesota.”

For the 40th year, AARP Minnesota and Pollen Midwest’s 2019 50 Over 50 list was released last week, recognizing the accomplishments of leaders from across the state who have made significant contributions and achievements in their communities.

Local honorees include Marlise Riffel of Virginia for her community work; Michael Norton of Britt for his nonprofit work and Christina Woods of Duluth for her nonprofit work.

“These are the people AARP and Pollen are celebrating, people driven by the belief that it’s never too late, you’re never too old, you can always keep working to make things better,” states Sue Crolick in the introduction to the list.

Crolick was a 2018 arts honoree and went on to say, “They’re neighbors working hard to build stronger communities; artists who both create and help others do the same; business-minded folks who find solutions and create new opportunities; leaders who mobilize individuals and organizations toward positive change; and innovators who look at the status quo and say, ‘we can do better’.”

Riffel is recognized as “an asset to her community.” She serves on the board of the Iron Range Partnership for Sustainability, is the co-founder of the Rutabaga Project and helped establish the community gardens. Riffel writes grants and guest newspaper columns. She also works with the Lyric Center for the Arts and Together for Youth.

Not even mentioned on the website, is Riffel’s organization and leadership of the Virginia Market Square, the area’s weekly farmers market.

“It’s an honor to be recognized!” said Riffel over email last week.“I’m grateful to live in a community that welcomes my efforts.”

Norton is recognized as “the Energizer Bunny of the Iron Range” for his varied nonprofit work. Norton serves on the board for the United Way, organizes an annual sale at his church and serves dinners at The Salvation Army. He also finds time to recruit for the various organizations he volunteers with and drives veterans to appointments at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System.

Woods, a member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Nation and now from Duluth, is executive director of the Duluth Art Institute, “where she uses her leadership skills to promote inclusive community participation, especially in the area of underrepresented cultural narratives.”

There will be a celebration event and recognition ceremony to celebrate the honorees on October 17 at McNamara Alumni Center in Minneapolis. Tickets are available for purchased.

To see the full list visit 50Over50MN.org where each of those selected is pictured with information on their accomplishments.


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