Hanger Hits The Road: Cotton, Minn.

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In this latest edition of Hanger Hits the Road, FOX 21’s Dan Hanger take you to Cotton, Minn., where a one-of-a-kind sense of community has formed in an the old high school building.

You can easily miss the small community of Cotton on Highway 53 — about 36 miles north of Duluth.

But there’s something big happening inside the old high school that closed up in 2011.

“When we lost the school, we lost a place to meet and be a community,” said Sandra Bickford, a longtime resident of Cotton and a volunteer inside the old high school.

Since 2012, the school has been home to a faith-based non-profit called Old School Lives that organizers and volunteers believe is the new center of the community.

“I come here because I really believe what we are doing here,” Bickford said.

There’s a free art room, a big gym, social services, youth programming, as well as a coffee shop, gift shop, and the popular thrift store.

OSL organizers say it’s the purchases here and rent from small businesses that help keep the lights on and services mostly free.

Tonia Weber rents an old classroom for her online start-up company of used hunting, fishing and camping gear.

“We have our little hardware section. And people that come in and find out about it in the community, really like having that,” explained Tonia Weber, owner of 2ND-Gear.net.

It’s a small-town mindset with a big-town appetite for a strong sense of community.

“I think whatever resources you have, there’s always more around you. There’s people with talents and skills around you can seek out in order to build something up,” said Kate Crispo, the youth director of Old School Lives.

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