Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Celebrating the value of virtues at family event in Faribault June 26, 2019

One of the virtues posted along the Virtues Project Trail, Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo August 2018.


WORDS HOLD POWER. Positive or negative. The words we choose to speak—because we really do choose—can heal or hurt. Uplift or defeat. Encourage or discourage. Unite or separate. Words unspoken, meaning silence, hold the same power.

We all understand that, even if we choose to ignore the importance of words and simply say or write whatever we please, no matter the effect on others.


Loved in three languages. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo August 2018.


Here in my community, a year-old public art installation showcases the value of words in 10 mirrored signs showcasing 20 virtues. Because Faribault is a diverse community, those virtues are written in three languages—English, Spanish and Somali. Honesty, kindness, patience, tolerance and more banner the mirrors.


One of 10 mirrored signs along a trail that runs next to train tracks and the Straight River in Faribault’s Heritage Bluff Park. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo August 2018.


The Virtues Project Faribault, part of a worldwide Virtues initiative, aims to unite people. And what a creative way to do that through those strong and positive words posted along a trail in Heritage Bluff Park.

Those most active in promoting virtues here in my southern Minnesota community have done, and are doing more, than simply posting artsy signs along a riverside trail in the central downtown area. On three Wednesday evenings this summer, organizers are hosting Family Fun Night on the Virtues Trail. The first happens this evening, Wednesday, June 26, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and ending at 7:30 p.m.

The event features something for all ages: music, games, Virtues Theater performances, face painting, crafts, storytelling, other creative activities and more, according to promotional information. The second two fun nights will be on July 31 and August 28.


Here’s how it works… Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo August 2018.


I realize many of you live nowhere near Faribault. But I hope you will take time to reflect on virtues and the power words hold. Use/choose your words wisely, recognizing that your words hold power to heal or hurt, uplift or defeat, encourage or discourage, unite or separate.


© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


18 Responses to “Celebrating the value of virtues at family event in Faribault”

  1. What a great town you live in Audrey!

  2. Larry Says:

    I’ve always been interested in the Virtues project’s close relationship and origin in the Bahai church.

  3. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    Having mirrored signs along the trail is such a great idea – who can resist taking a peek in a mirror? I can imagine that many conversations will happen at the family fun nights, but more than that, walking this trail alone as a contemplative practice would also be an incredibly affirming exercise. What a thoughtful project. I hope it brings some of the hoped-for unity.

  4. Your community is truly inspiring, Audrey. I wish the world in general would embrace these virtues. I love the reminder that it starts with me and the words I put out there. One at a time, we can all inspire love and positivity to everything around us. I’m looking forward to our upcoming visit to Mantorville and exploring a small part of your beautiful state!

    • Thank you. When will you be here, Dawn? I’ve had a crazy summer as evidenced by my lack of blogging and reading blogs. I hope life returns to some sense of normalcy soon. I need normal.

      • I’m praying you obtain normal soon. We’ve run into a little snag on this end. We were supposed to arrive in Mantorville on Sunday, but our reservations were canceled due to flooding and we’re having issues finding other places to stay. We’re in the midst of problem solving and ‘living in the moment’ without knowing where we will be. We’ve got feelers out and will hopefully have resolution soon. Going by faith and seeing what’s in store. 🙂

      • You have a great attitude. I hope you find some place to camp near Mantorville.

  5. Kiandra Judge Says:

    This sounds and looks like an awesome display! A way to unite people. This also reminds me of the verse in Proverbs “Life and Death are in the power of the tongue”. We have to control to wound or heal and the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”, simply isn’t true. And that’s ok! We are human, not machines. This month is PRIDE month and I’ve been reading (THANKFULLY!) a lot of posts about kindness that is being displayed at the PRIDE events. Maybe we’ve turned a corner as a society and the exhibit in your community and these acts of kindness are a new path for us to be united.

  6. I am a strong believer that words have power. I was raised in that you have nothing nice to say do not say it. I do take the approach of being curious and learning though if I feel someone is open to sharing something I am not familiar with. If nothing else to have a better understanding of something I know nothing or little about. I also feel like it opens versus closes a line of communication in getting to know other people and their experiences, history, cultures, etc. Great Post – thanks so much for sharing! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  7. valeriebollinger Says:

    Words can build you up, or tear your down…from a great song called…Words. 😉

  8. Susan Ready Says:

    What a great community project with powerful messages of unity,Sounds like it has been embraced by the area and the idea of using three languages is noteworthy. A contemplative walk is always a good idea.

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