BY CARISSA SCHIVELY SLOTTERBACK
The Resilient Communities Project’s (RCP) partnership with the City of North St. Paul is well underway as we reach the halfway point of the fall semester. We enjoyed an official kickoff last month at the North St. Paul Community Center (see video here). Our luncheon kickoff celebration attracted over 40 people, including residents and members of City boards and commissions. The event included a rousing speech by North St. Paul’s mayor, Mike Kuehn, as well as a statement from U.S. Representative Betty McCollum, a former resident of North St. Paul. For all involved, there is significant excitement about the wide-ranging and long-term impacts of the RCP – North St. Paul partnership.
As we have moved into the fall semester, we are pleased to report that we have matched our highest number of projects with courses thus far, with 13 projects active this semester. The projects are very wide ranging and engage undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of disciplines. Here are a few highlights:
Community Branding. The City is engaged in a number of efforts to position the community for future visibility and economic competitiveness. One priority positioning effort is the development of a new City logo. The City’s iconic snowman remains a visible symbol for the community and has been used in previous logos, as well as in some of those proposed by students in Graphic Design Lecturer Deb Lawton’s GDES 3352: Identity and Symbols course. The students have been researching the community’s history and identity to inform their design alternatives for a new logo.
Environmental Education Initiative. North St. Paul is fortunate to include a number of high quality natural resource areas. These areas are amenities for the community and will benefit from attention of environmental education students this semester. For example, Associate Professor Ken Gilbertson’s ENED 4315: Operations and Management class at the Univeristy of Minnesota – Duluth will engage City staff, natural resource experts, and the public to develop recommendations for a long-range operations and management plan for Southwood Park, a 29-acre nature reserve in the southern part of the community.
Green Energy Initiative. North St. Paul in unique in operating its own electric utility. With the assistance of Associate Professor Elizabeth Wilson’s PA 5721: Energy and Environmental policy course, the City is exploring potential green energy initiatives. These public policy students will collaborate with City staff in examining innovative approaches such as distributed generation systems, community-based energy development, district energy, and net-zero development. The students will also engage partners such as Avant Energy, Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, North St. Paul Electric, and the Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams.
Community Engagement. A number of North St. Paul’s project priorities are focused on enhancing community engagement. Students in my own urban planning course, PA 5253: Designing Planning and Participation Processes, will be exploring potential ways to engagement residents across a variety of issues. Students will develop proposed engagement strategies related to Living Streets and Capital Improvements, a Community Art Plan, and Community Gardening. In addition, students will explore strategies to enhance the general engagement of underrepresented groups.
Descriptions of all of North St. Paul’s projects is available on the RCP website.
Carissa Schively Slotterback, Ph.D., is director of the Resilient Communities Project and associate professor and director of the Urban and Regional Planning Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota