Chaska Herald: Commentary: Great Value from U of M Project

by Randy Maluchnik, Chaska Herald, August 28, 2015

The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is an award-winning program at the University of Minnesota that matches community-identified projects with faculty and students to research, analyze, and develop options to address local issues.

In March, the university selected Carver County through a competitive process, thereby designating Carver County as RCP’s partner community for the 2015-16 school year.

Carver County’s partnership with the university will put students to work on about 25 to 30 different projects for the county, several cities, School District 112, the historical society, and SouthWest Transit. The projects will tackle such challenges as housing opportunity, transportation, human services, community development, environmental management, community relations and engagement, and effective administration.

The county benefits from this partnership in many ways, including efficient access to a full range of U of MN departments and resources, increased local capacity through access to students and faculty, an infusion of energy and creativity to move projects forward, opportunities to test new ideas and make data-driven decisions, and opportunities to network with young professionals entering the workforce.

The university and students benefit too with opportunities to network by working hand-in-hand with staff, access to high-quality and well-organized projects, experience applying knowledge and skills to real-world projects, ability to make a difference in a community, and visibility and recognition for their work.

At a recent county work session, we had a few members of the public express concern regarding this partnership. We appreciate their concern and listen to their objections. However, the county can assure you that there is no evidence that RCP or the University of Minnesota is part of any alleged worldwide conspiracy theory related to the United Nations Agenda 21 or ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. These are community selected projects and the communities are able to decide what to do with the information that students provide.

Carver County is excited to partner with the university and its talented faculty and students to bring energy, fresh ideas, and resources to these community-identified priorities. In researching their success in other communities, including the cities of Rosemount, North St. Paul, and Minnetonka, I am sure that Carver County and our partners will receive a great value.

Randy Maluchnik, Chair, Carver County Board

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