As Minnesotans, we cannot continue to believe that our state is an idyllic and welcoming place - where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average. Not when Minnesota has some of the largest and most embarrassing racial disparities in the nation - in education, employment, home ownership and more - or when we watch Philando Castile die in our Facebook feeds.

As someone who works closely with nonprofit organizations, and who is responsible for helping grantmakers and foundations be more effective, it is hard to see the current state of our community and to hear the too common narrative: "Minnesota used to be great, but our future is bleak." "Our best days as a state are behind us." "We peaked when Gov. Wendell Anderson proclaimed Minnesotans were living the good life from the cover of Time magazine."

Yet I disagree with those sentiments. I think it is time for us to become hopeful again about our future. The increasing diversity of our state is a gift that will grow the economic and cultural vitality of our rural communities and inner cities alike. If we let them, our differences will make us stronger. People with varied backgrounds, experiences, skills and ideas, who respect each other, will deliver amazing results.

The future doesn't just happen. It is something we create with the decisions we make and the actions we take today and every day. We are not passive actors in our own futures or in the future of our communities or our state.

The future of our state is what we make it. So, please do your part through thoughtful actions, small and large. Smile at the person next to you in the grocery line. Get to know nonprofits and their work by volunteering. Give generously to nonprofits that are fixing the broken places in our society. Be an active and informed citizen who speaks up for and with those who are not as easily heard or listened to.

Let's all pitch in and contribute to the work that is necessary for Minnesota to be a wonderful place for everyone to live - from the children of Lake Wobegon to the children who live on Lake Street. Together we can make Minnesota a place that all of us are proud to call home.

Trista Harris is president of the Minnesota Council on Foundations, a vibrant community of grantmakers who award almost $1 billion annually.

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