Moorhead equals fantastic for growing social media group | INFORUM

Local News 22-10-2021 IN FORUM 19

She spent 15 years on the East Coast before deciding to return to the city where she grew up.

When she returned, she found a much more sophisticated metropolitan area with an active arts community and a much more laid back lifestyle.

Now, she said, she's "probably Moorhead's biggest fan."

"I probably love Moorhead more than others do. It's just a fantastic place to live," Morken said.

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With her change of heart, it's no wonder that she would started the neighborly "Moorhead=Fantastic" Facebook group after moving back about seven years ago.

In the past month, the group reached two major milestons: it hit the 4,000-member mark, and Morken, Marsha Drewlow Wichmann and Chris Orth — who are moderators for the Facebook group — were honored with the city's new "MoorHeart Award."

The MoorHeart Award is given to those who make "an outstanding achievement or contribution" to the Moorhead community, according to the city of Moorhead.

Morken, a graphic designer and artist, compared the group to texting a friend or talking to neighbors over the fence.

There's no negativity allowed, however.

"If anyone wants to pick a fight, they can just do it on some other site," she said.

Even if someone posts about a problem, the goal is to "find solutions."

In other words, no complaining.

The group goes much further than that, however. It's a place to do "shout-outs," look for volunteer help, promote events, tell people about a new business or alert others to traffic concerns.

"We want to bring out the good in Moorhead," said Wichmann, a mental health and addiction counselor who started helping Morken moderate the group at the same time as Orth about three years ago.

Wichmann's favorite parts of the group are posts about community events and celebrating good deeds.

She said they'll curb any complaints, although if someone raises an issue they "try to find a balance and be as positive as we can be."

The 23-year Moorhead resident grew up in Barnesville but said she loves the opportunities Moorhead provides, noting "it still has that small town feel."

The mother of five children said she especially enjoys the city's school system.

As a moderator, Wichmann said she can't remember a day when someone hasn't asked to join the group after answering a few questions.

Orth, who owns a business creating neon signs, lives in north Moorhead. He said they have about five to 10 posts each day, although Morken noted they have had up to 200 posts in a day.

"They are overwhelmingly positive, which makes it a lot easier" to moderate, Orth said.

He grew up in Fargo and said he was a bit hesitant about moving to Moorhead 10 years ago.

"But we are so, so happy we did," he said. "We just absolutely love it. We have a great neighborhood."

He said among his favorite parts of the group are acknowledgments of new business operations in the city and ideas to improve the community.

Despite the overwhelming positivity, the group is no stranger to controversial topics. The city's roaming and sometimes irritating wild turkeys, snow removal issues and the mass death of monarch butterflies after an aerial mosquito spraying last year all sparked were among the most contentious matters.

Morken said she relishes in the positive effects of the group.

There was a post from a young father with two children who said he was suffering from addiction issues, and the community stepped up to help him.

Or the post about a bunch of garbage left in a field in the city that prompted four people to show up almost immediately to clean it up.

Or the request from a neighborhood near the high school to have drivers be aware of children in the street as they weren't used to such heavy traffic.

Or the post from a mother looking for a job for her 15-year-old son.

Morken said having Wichmann and Orth join her in moderating the group made her a bit braver when it comes to booting repeat offenders from the group after penning negative posts.

"We aren't solving the world's problems. What we're doing is seeing what neighbors can do for each other," Morken said. "It's exciting, and I'm proud of what we're doing."

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