Residents curious about preserving the Gretna they know and love are encouraged to participate in a startup effort.

Organized by a core group with representatives from Sarpy County, the City of Gretna, Gretna Public Schools, local businesses, the Gretna Community Foundation and the Gretna Days Foundation, Gretna Heart and Soul is a grassroots endeavor that aims to bring the community together to identify what makes Gretna great and to preserve those things moving forward.

“The current and coming growth in our area creates an urgent need to define what this community is all about beyond a good school system or nice subdivisions with a few neighbors we meet when the warm weather brings people outside their homes,” as published on the Gretna Heart and Soul website. “If we don’t define what makes Gretna a great community, it may get lost as new developments are created and new people continue to move here.”

Using a process called Community Heart and Soul, developed by the Orton Family Foundation, efforts will aim to engage all demographics, reaching people throughout the Gretna Public School District and encompassing all ages and backgrounds, to identify the identity of Gretna and the community’s vision for the city moving forward.

Volunteers will set out to seek stories, focusing on what has drawn people to Gretna, what they like about the community, why they stay and what might spur them to leave.

“The goal is to give voice to that in a way that can provide guidance in the future with making decisions,” said Jason Lauritsen, a founding member of the effort.

These stories will be used to define Gretna’s heart and soul, which can be used by many entities moving forward.

“With this, we have more direction of where the city can go,” said Angie Lauritsen, City Council President.

In its early stages, Gretna Heart and Soul is working to offer information and recruit volunteers.

Two additional information meetings will be held this week, one on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Gretna Public Library, 736 South St. and the other Saturday at 10 a.m. at Peterson Park, 200 W. Angus St.

More information and a volunteer signup form can be found at gretnaheartandsoul.org.

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