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Reserving a Zipcar

In cases where public transit is not feasible or available, students may need a vehicle for RCP project-related trips. For students who do not have access to a personal vehicle, RCP will pay for a ZipCar rental for such trips. Remember that eligible personal expenses incurred through RCP projects, such as trips made with a personal vehicle, are reimbursable. If you choose to use a ZipCar, vehicles are available at several locations near the U of MN Minneapolis campuses. 

PDF iconClick here for a downloadable instruction guide

To Request a Zipcar Account:

1. Visit https://members.zipcar.com/registration/#step
2. Select “Join with an organization” > “I want to join my company’s existing account”
3. Search for “University of Minnesota” and select “University of Minnesota - Center for Urban & Regional Affairs” from the search results.
4. Click the orange “Select” button (should appear under the words “The administrator of this account must give the thumbs up.”
5. Follow the prompts to create your account. NOTE: You must be at least 18 years of age and will need a valid driver’s license to complete this step.
6. Important: After you sign up, send an email with the subject line “RCP student Zipcar request” to cura@umn.edu (with a cc to rcp@umn.edu) asking that your account signup be authorized. The email should include your name and telephone number (in case we need to contact you for more information). This will alert our account administrator that she needs to confirm you on the UMN – CURA account. If you skip this step, your signup will not be authorized.

Once you hear from ZipCar that your account application has been approved, you can visit https://members.zipcar.com/reservations/reserve to reserve a vehicle.

On the reservation page, under “Account to Bill,” you will be able to select “University of Minnesota - Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.”

To Reserve a Zipcar Vehicle:

After you have selected a vehicle, you will be taken to the confirmation screen for your reservation. In the field called “Reservation Memo,” Please enter RCP, followed by a brief explanation for the trip (e.g., “Trip to Carver County for YOUR NAME to meet with project lead THEIR NAME at LOCATION AND ADDRESS, in conjunction with an RCP project in HIST 4321”).

Screenshot of Zipcar Memo Screen

Important Note: If you want to use this ZipCar account for personal trips, you must set up another payment option with your own personal credit card information. To set up another payment option, login to your Zipcar account and select “My Stuff” > “My Account” from the pulldown menus (or visit https://members.zipcar.com/members/account).  You can enter your personal credit card information by selecting “edit” in the “My Payment Information” section. If you make unauthorized personal trips and charge them to the U of MN – CURA account, your ZipCar account will be revoked and you will be billed through your U of MN Student Account for all unauthorized charges you have incurred.Screenshot of Zipcar Reservation Screen

Reimbursement for Project Expenses & Travel

RCP offers funding to reimburse students and/or faculty for reasonable project-related expenses including travel to and from our community partner, printing, and supplies. To request reimbursement, you must submit a completed and signed U of MN Reimbursement Form, as well as itemized receipts for any eligible expenses. Lodging, meals, computer hardware or software, and parking at the University of Minnesota are not eligible for reimbursement.

PDF iconClick here for a downloadable instruction guide

Directions for Completing Reimbursement Form

1. Download the Reimbursement form and complete all of these fields:

-Empl ID: Provide your U of MN student ID number (or employee ID if you have one)
-Name: Provide your first and last name
-Email: Provide your U of MN email address
-Address: Provide the address where you would like your reimbursement check sent
-Travel Destinations(s): Provide the location(s) you traveled to
-Travel Date(s): Provide the date (or date range, if more than one day) the travel took place
-Detailed Expense Justification: Fill in the sentence formula provided for each trip

2. Detail your expenses in the section at the bottom 

Example of completed reimbursement form

-For travel in a personal vehicle, list the to and from location for your mileage request. The form will calculate the reimbursement amount after you fill in the mileage column.
-For all other expenses, list the date of the purchase, the location of the purchase, and the purpose of the purchase. The amount of the purchase should be entered in the “Other” column on the right side of the form.NOTE: You must provide an itemized receipt that lists your purchases (not a credit card receipt) to be reimbursed for any items or services purchased.

3. Sign and date the form where it says “Signature of Payee and Date.” Unsigned forms will be returned to you and may delay your reimbursement.

4. Submit the completed form, along with itemized receipts for any purchases made to RCP:

-By email: rcp@umn.edu
-By campus mail: Resilient Communities Project, 330 HHHSPA, Del Code 7452A
-By U.S. mail: Resilient Communities Project, CURA – U of MN, 330 HHHSPA, 301 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55455

Hope for the Historic—Helping Ramsey Honor Its Roots

Photo of Ramsey Town Hall

By Katriona Filipovitch Molasky, a second-year graduate student in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

When I entered the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program at the Humphrey School last fall, I was excited to dig into coursework and to start designing my own program concentration in Historic Preservation. During the first few weeks of class, I learned that one of my classes—Land Use Planning, taught by Dr. Fernando Burga—would be working with the Resilient Communities Project on a slate of projects with their partner, the City of Ramsey. Imagine my surprise when Ramsey staff were presenting projects to our class during the second week of the semester, and came to a project about the “Old Ramsey Town Hall”—a historic building on the outskirts of the city that needed a little love and a new life. I jumped at the opportunity to start working on historic preservation and selected this project as the focus for my semester-long team assignment in the class.

My three-person team included Mary Cutrufello, a fellow student in the MURP program, and Amy Van Gessel, a graduate student in Architecture. As we discussed our assignment and the project, it became clear we each were drawn to a different aspect of the Old Ramsey Town Hall: Mary was interested in the history of the building, Amy in the building itself, and I was interested in how the community interacted with the building. Our diverse interests and the City of Ramsey’s openness to exploration let each of us approach the work in a different way and, in the end, produce a stronger project for the City.

From the beginning, the importance of the Old Ramsey Town Hall to the community was clear. It’s the only building in Ramsey on the National Register of Historic Places and one of the few remaining buildings in the city that links the community to its rural roots. The building sits on the southeast edge of town, near the border with the City of Anoka. Built in 1892 as a one-room schoolhouse, it replaced a smaller wood schoolhouse building formerly on the site. The schoolhouse served the community for 54 years, until it closed its doors in 1946 and the building and land were given to Ramsey Township. Ramsey renovated the building to serve as the town hall (hence the name) and eventually City Hall once the township incorporated, but by 1977, the city had outgrown the space and built a new facility in a more central location in the community. Since then, the Old Ramsey Town Hall has largely remained empty and unused.  

In 1979, the community rallied around the building and submitted an application to place it on the National Register of Historic Places—a list of more than 80,000 properties of national, regional, or local significance maintained by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Properties are deemed historically significant for many reasons, from architectural design and engineering to cultural and historical significance. Placement on the National Register makes a property eligible for federal rehabilitation grants and tax credits, as well as a 20% state tax credit in Minnesota.

Today, the Old Ramsey Town Hall is still a topic of discussion and debate among community members. The building’s location is both a benefit and a drawback. It occupies a prime location in the middle of a commercial development, and is highly visible from well-traveled St. Francis Boulevard. Surrounding the building are several century-old oak trees that contribute to the historic setting and provide valuable shade for the property and surrounding buildings. But as the City of Ramsey has grown and developed around the site, the property has become hemmed in. Currently, the building is nestled between businesses to the north and south, a high-traffic roadway to the east, and an expansive wetland and residential development to the west. Although it is located in an area designated for commercial, the site lacks off-street parking and there is no room for expansion.

Although evaluating the structural integrity of the building was not the primary focus of our project, we capitalized on Amy’s architectural knowledge to assess the Old Ramsey Town Hall. Amy noted that the brick and timbers used to construct the building would have been obtained from the surrounding area, making the building a representation of local industry in the late 19th century. An effort was made in the 1990s to remodel the building’s interior, but the work was left unfinished and the remodeling effort left the entire inside of the structure stripped of historical integrity.

Kurt Ulrich, Ramsey’s City Administrator and our staff contact for the project, had mentioned during his initial presentation in our class the possibility of moving the Old Ramsey Town Hall to a new location somewhere in the Center of Ramsey (COR), the community’s mixed-use downtown development. When the Northstar Commuter Rail Line was being built, there had been some discussion about moving the building, but ultimately nothing happened and Kurt was interested in having our group explore the prospect again.

Ultimately, our team decided to evaluate the pros and cons of leaving the building in its current location, moving it to two other locations in the city, and possible adaptive reuses of the building in any of these locations.

Leaving the Old Town Hall in its current location has many benefits. The building can remain on the National Register and benefit from the tax incentives that come with that designation. Once repurposed, the building would provide prime access to clientele given its location near Highway 10 and in an established commercial district. By avoiding relocation costs, the City could allocate money to restore the historic property to a usable condition. In addition, historic properties are often repurposed for use by nonprofits, start-up businesses, and arts organizations, providing some economic development benefit.

Of course, this option is not without its drawbacks. Leaving the building where it is, with no obvious way to address the lack of onsite parking, limits future uses of the property. Keeping the building on the National Register means that there are constraints on repairs to the exterior of the building, as no outward changes of appearance would be allowed. And there is no space for expansion. Any use of the building would be significantly constrained by the site.

Our team also explored two possible sites for relocating the building to the COR. The first site, near the new Ramsey Municipal Building and City Hall, would place the buliding in a “then and now” context and show how much Ramsey has changed and grown. The second location would provide a more pastoral setting akin to the original location of the building before Ramsey began to develop. There are potential benefits to moving the Old Town Hall. A new site in the COR offers flexibility for the city to choose the ideal context for the building depending on its proposed use. In addition, it connects Ramsey with its history as a rural, agricultural community.

However, moving the structure has significant drawbacks as well. The building could no longer be listed on the National Register, and Ramsey would lose access to the funding and tax benefits that comes with that designation. The scale of other buildings in the COR would dwarf the one-story building, making it appear less prominent and out of place. Most importantly, the structural state of the Old Town Hall is such that moving it would be both risky and costly.

In considering adaptive reuses of the Old Town Hall, our team suggested uses that would bring the building to life—a café, a retail store, an interpretive learning or museum space, or even using the space as a business incubator to draw on Ramsey’s entrepreneurial spirit. What was most exciting to me and my teammates was the fact that community members had already come up with ideas of their own. Kurt put us in touch with two community members who had come to the city with proposals for using the Old Town Hall, including business plans. Shannon Potter proposed turning the space into a School of the Arts for Ramsey. When I met with her and asked her why she was interested in the space, she said, “I just want to see that space used again and I want to bring more artists to Ramsey.” Tara Gattner, who runs Braven Music Anoka, has hopes of expanding her well-established music school into the building. As she noted, “We love history and a good story; we think that it is great that the building started out as a school and could again be one.”

And that is what makes Ramsey’s Old Town Hall so interesting. The building has been left, somewhat abandoned, for the better part of four decades, and still the community identifies with it and cares for it as a symbol of how Ramsey started. The idea that old buildings are just eyesores that should be torn down and the property redeveloped ignores the human element of how people connect with spaces and the stories about them. Old buildings help us learn about and share our history, reusing historical spaces helps us remember that we are connected to and a part of something bigger than we are.

Over the summer, I learned that the City of Ramsey had decided—based on both our recommendations and the work of another RCP class in the School of Architecture on “Historic Building Conservation”—that they would not move forward with plans to relocate the building, and are instead exploring options for adaptive reuses once renovations to the building can be completed. Could a graduate student ask for a better result? Not only did RCP provide me and my teammates an opportunity to work side-by-side with City staff on a real project, it gave us the experience of seeing our work influence the way staff and elected officials approach an historic city asset. As an emerging young professional hoping to pursue a career in Historic Preservation, it has been an amazing and gratifying experience!

*****

To learn more about the work of U of MN students referenced in this story, view the students’ final RCP reports:

Apply Now to be RCP's Next Community Partner!

Photo of downtown

RCP is now accepting proposals from cities, counties, tribal governments, special districts, and regional government agencies or partnerships in Minnesota to be an RCP partner for the academic year beginning fall 2019. Information on how to apply is now online.

RCP staff are available to discuss your application and project ideas, and to make informational presentations in your community. Contact us today to get started!

RCP Presents!

Photo of APA Conference Presentation

RCP collaborations were the focus of recent presentations at two local conferences.

In late September, the RCP–City of Ramsey partnership was highlighted during a session at the Upper Midwest Regional Planning Conference in Rochester, MN. RCP Director Mike Greco was joined by Humphrey School of Public Affairs faculty Fernando Burga and Dan Milz, Humphrey School student Liz Engels Morice, and Ramsey Community Development Director Tim Gladhill to explore the topic, Making Planning Legible, Making Learning Practical. The presentation focused on how nearly 20 applied planning projects leveraged a mutually beneficial partnership between Humphrey School planning courses and the City of Ramsey to create new opportunities for the City to engage its residents while offering students a meaningful professional experience.  

In early October, Greco teamed with Citizens League Policy Director Angelica Klebsch, who coordinated the RCP–Brooklyn Park partnership on behalf of the city, to facilitate a roundtable discussion at the Engaged Scholarship Consortium, hosted by the University of Minnesota. The pair introduced the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) model of community-university engagement on which RCP is based, focusing on how such partnerships can collaboratively advance local initiatives that improve quality of life while providing students hands-on experience with real projects.

 APA Conference Graphic

Introducing the RCP Team

RCP Staff Photo_Fall2018

RCP Staff, Fall 2018. From left to right: Program Associate Ashleigh Walter, Director Mike Greco, and Program Coordinator Sarah Tschida.

See what our staff have to say about working at RCP, being part of the University community, and more!

RCP Staff Photo_M_GrecoMike Greco is Co-founder and Director of RCP

What made you decide to start the Resilient Communities Project?
RCP was an outgrowth of a previous program at CURA called University–Community Growth Options (U-CGO), which placed student researchers in city and county government agencies to assist with efforts to manage growth and reduce urban sprawl in the Twin Cities metro area. When the housing bubble and credit crisis hit in 2008-2009, pressure for growth declined rapidly, and the conversation both locally and nationally shifted to how to assist communities to become more sustainable and resilient in the face of unprecedented changes, stresses, and shockslike the housing bubble collapse, climate change, overstretched and deteriorating infrastructrure, and a rapidly aging and diversifying population and workforce.

Around that time, Humphrey School planning professor (and RCP co-founder) Carissa Slotterback and I learned about a program at the University of Oregon that facilitated university collaborations with local government, and that offered a more efficient and cost-effective model for partnering with cities and counties by addressing their needs through course-based projects. With assistance from the University of Oregon, and support from CURA, the Institute on the Environment, and the U of MN’s Sustainability Faculty Network, we adapted the Oregon model to our local context in Minnesota and launched RCP in 2012 with a pilot partnership in the City of Minnetonka.  

What is your role with RCP, and how does your work impact the University of Minnesota?
In my role as director, much of my day-to-day work is focused on cultivating relationships and partnerships with local governments in Minnesota. I meet with city and county staff,  elected officials, and residents to understand the community's unique issues, assets, challenges, and opportunities, and how RCP can help. To connect this work to the University, I also spend a good deal of time meeting with faculty in departments all across campus to learn about course offerings and other opportunities to connect their students to projects in our partner communities, so we can facilitate future collaborations when a particular community need arises.

What do you enjoy most about your role with RCP?
Getting to work with a wide array of city and county staff, community organizations, and residents in each new community we partner with. I’m not a native of Minnesota, so it’s been a great opportunity to learn first-hand what makes each of these places unique and special to the people who call them home.

What would people never guess you do in your job?
Well, it’s not the most exciting part of my job, but I spend a lot more time negotiating contracts with our community partners than I ever guessed I would!

People would be surprised if they knew. . .
I was originally hired at CURA as the editor of the CURA Reporter back in 2000. I transitioned to program work after earning my urban and regional planning degree from the Humphrey School, while working full-time at CURA.

What do you like best about working at the U of MN?
The amazing array of knowledge and expertise represented by our students, faculty, and staff, and the passion and commitment they bring to their work. No matter what the issue, you can find someone at the U of MN who specializes in that area.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love gardening and hiking on the farm where my wife and I live. When I’m not outside, you may find me playing guitar, catching live music, or attending local theater. And just last year, I took up curling, and now play on a team with some family and friends.

What was your best vacation?
My wife and I recently embarked an 8-day Alaskan cruise that was unforgettable. Having never been on a cruise before, I was a little skeptical about the trip, but I have to say, gliding down a narrow and misty fjord in a 1000-foot ship as the early morning sun is rising over a glacier is truly spectacular!

RCP Staff Photo_S_TschidaSarah Tschida is the Program Coordinator at RCP

What made you decide to work for RCP?
I was really excited to work in a university-community engagement role. With RCP, I have the opportunity to build on my previous work in experiential learning and faculty and student development and couple that with my passion for civic engagement and working with others at the local level to make our world a better place.  

What is your role with RCP and how does your work impact the University Community?
I am the Program Coordinator and work to connect RCP community partners and University faculty, courses, and students. Once we match community projects with courses and students, I facilitate the collaboration. I also work to highlight the stories that make RCP such a unique program.

What do you enjoy most about your role with RCP?
I love getting to know people and hearing their vision for their community and their creative ideas for addressing challenges. I also enjoy the forward-thinking and interdisciplinary nature of the projects. It’s gratifying to see how community members, researchers, practitioners, policy makers, educators, and more can come together and contribute their experience and knowledge to solve a problem.

What do you like best about working at UMN?
I love getting to know people across the University and learning about their passions. I also appreciate working alongside the many dedicated and passionate people here working to make the University a more inclusive and accessible place for everyone. It’s also awesome to be able to take advantage of the many professional development events, symposiums, workshops, and lectures that take place here too.  

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to be with my family and friends. I also like to volunteer, hang out in my front yard or my front porch, bike, garden, eat good food, play in the parks, and read newspapers and good books.

What was your best vacation?
I love any vacation that involves Lake Superior. I’ve been fortunate to travel to many places around the world and Gitchi-Gami is by far my favorite.

RCP Staff Photo_A_WalterAshleigh Walter is a Program Assistant at RCP and a graduate student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs 

What made you decide to work for RCP?
Before starting at RCP, I had worked loosely with CURA in previous experience and was impressed with its reputation for work in the community. RCP is the perfect combination of my background and interest in sustainability and local and regional government.

What is your role with RCP and how does your work impact the University Community?
I am the Graduate Assistant, meaning I work part-time while I complete my Masters. While most of the RCP project work is done by students through course-matching, this semester I am leading the work on two projects with past and current partners. I’m also working on a number of communications projects, making sure that the work we at RCP do is articulated to our university and community-partner networks.

What do you enjoy most about your role with RCP?
I love the outward-facing nature of the program. My role allows me to work with the very tangible problems faced by communities across Minnesota, and be a part of the process as solutions take shape over the partnership.

What do you like best about working at UMN?
Besides the immersive culture of events, speakers, and events, the University’s tuition benefit is a major incentive for students!

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Take walks/bike/rollerblade around my Minneapolis neighborhood, play violin in a string ensemble, catch up with friends/family.

What was your best vacation?
I grew up in Montana, but until a few years ago had never made the trip to Glacier National Park. A couple summers ago I spent a week there kayaking on Lake MacDonald, eating a lot of huckleberry ice cream, hiking to Iceburg Lake, etc.. It was terrific!

 

Projects to Follow This Fall at RCP

Photo of students in Sustainable Land Use & Planning on site visit in Jordan, MN

Above: Students enrolled in Sustainable Land Use Planning and Policy (ESPM 5245) in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota visit a site in Jordan, MN. Students in the course will be working on a project with Scott County to revise the County's Conservation Financial Assistance Program to promote planting of perennial crops as a way to reduce chemical runoff and fossil fuel usage, and to diversify the local agricultural economy.

RCP's partnerships with Scott and Ramsey Counties are off to a strong start this semester. Students from across the University are enrolled in RCP-affiliated courses and meeting with staff leads and community stakeholders on a range of projects to advance community sustainability and resilience.

This fall, RCP is partnering for the first time with a freshman undergraduate seminar in the Department of Political Science. Professor Scott Abernathy’s seminar, Generation Now: Young Adult Political Action in America, is the perfect match for Ramsey County’s Empowering Citizens to Vote project. Abernathy’s students will be focusing on how to motivate potential voters aged 18–24 to vote in local, state, and national elections.

For the second year in a row, RCP is partnering with Professor Fernando Burga’s Land Use Planning course at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. This year, Burga’s class is focused on autonomous vehicles, and students will examine the land use and other challenges and implications of deploying autonomous vehicle technology in communities along the urban-suburban-rural transect, with case studies in Scott County and Minneapolis. Five groups of students in the class are matched with Scott County traffic engineer Mark Callahan to examine the implications of autonomous vehicles for Canterbury Commons, the new Renaissance Festival site, ports and freight, pedestrian crossings, and rideshare opportunities. Students’ work will be presented at an end-of-semester poster fair on December 7 at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

RCP is thrilled to be working this year with individual students in both the Law School and School of Public Health. Two law students are conducting independent research projects with Scott County through RCP. Sarah Leneave is examining access to and use of early childhood data to improve educational and other outcomes for children, and Stephanie Gruba is exploring potential changes to eminent domain law. Public health students Jenna Yeakle and Kristine Mcintyre have each chosen to focus their culminating experience for the master of public health degree on Scott County’s Creating an Edible Landscape project, and are teaming up with Jamie Bachaus, Scott County’s Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) coordinator, who is leading the project with RCP.

Stay tuned for more project updates throughout the semester. And remember, if you're teaching a course a the U of MN this spring, there is still time to partner with RCP for the spring semester! Just contact us to get started.

 

RCP Seeks Faculty Partners for Spring 2019 Term!

University of Minnesota welcome sign

Teaching a UMN course this spring? Consider incorporating an experiential learning opportunity into your graduate or professional-level class by partnering with RCP! We're seeking to match nearly 30 projects with our partner communities, Scott County and Ramsey County.

RCP facilitates 15- to 18-month partnerships between the U of MN and communities in Minnesota. Through the program, students and faculty from across the University collaborate with local government partners to address the partner’s self-defined research and technical assistance needs through course-based projects. The collaboration results in on-the-ground impact and momentum for a community working toward a more livable, resilient, and sustainable future, and provides students and faculty with ready-made applied and experiential learning opportunities.

This year's projects with Scott County and Ramsey County focus on a range of sustainability and resiliency topics, including investivating self-serve libraries, planting edible landscapes, planning for autonomous vehicles, strenthening collaboration on climate resilience, increasing voter participation, providing more affordable housing, and more. 

Our partner communities are seeking student collaboration on a variety of deliverables, including: 

  • best practices and case studies from peer communities
  • culturally responsive approaches to delivering services to residents
  • GIS mapping and analysis
  • program evaluation 
  • qualitative and quantitatice data collection and analysis

RCP staff are happy to help identify projects that may be of interest to you and your students, and that fit your course curriculum and assignments.

Contact rcp@umn.edu to get started, or check out our Faculty FAQ page to learn what is involved in collaborating with RCP or the RCP Faculty Directory to find colleagues at the U of MN who have partnered with RCP in the past.

Frequently Asked Questions for Students

What is the Resilient Communities Project (RCP)?

The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is a highly successful, cross-disciplinary program at the University of Minnesota that supports one-year partnerships between the university and communities in Minnesota to advance local sustainability and resilience. The idea behind RCP is simple: Connect the students and faculty at a world-renowned teaching and research institution with local communities to address economic, social, and environmental issues, needs, and opportunities and make the world a better place.

How does RCP work?

Each year, RCP selects one partner community (typically a city or county) through a competitive request-for-proposal process. Working with staff and stakeholders in the community, RCP helps to identify 15–30 potential projects that will advance local sustainability and resilience based on community-identified environmental, social, and economic issues and needs. RCP then serves as a centralized “matchmaker,” strategically connecting these projects with existing courses or independent student projects at the University of Minnesota that can provide research or technical assistance to move the projects forward. Local government staff and stakeholders work closely with faculty and students to provide local knowledge and deeper insight into the issues, ensuring projects are relevant to the community context. Outcomes from each University course are documented in a final report and presentation to the community partner.

As a student, how can I participate in RCP?

Graduate, professional, and advanced undergraduate students can participate in RCP by enrolling in an RCP-affiliated course, or through connecting an individual thesis, capstone, or independent study to an RCP project. Please contact program staff at rcp@umn.edu to discuss connecting your individual work to an RCP project.

How do students benefit from participating in RCP?

In addition to helping the University fulfill its land-grant mission, RCP provides many benefits for students and faculty who collaborate with the program, including:

  • Efficient access to high-quality and well-organized community projects
  • Experience applying knowledge and skills to real-world issues
  • Potential to advance local sustainability and resilience and make a difference
  • Opportunities to network with local government and industry personnel
  • Local and regional visibility and recognition for their work
How do communities benefit from participating in RCP?

Communities benefit in many ways, including:

  • Efficient access to the full range of U of MN departments and resources
  • Increased local capacity through access to hundreds of students and thousands of hours of student time
  • An infusion of energy and creativity to move projects forward
  • Opportunities to test new ideas and approaches and make data-driven decisions
  • Visibility and recognition as a leader in sustainability and resilience
  • Opportunities to network with young professionals entering the workforce
Where can I get information about the projects that are part of the RCP-Ramsey partnership?

Summaries of the projects that are the focus of this year’s partnership with the City of Ramsey are available here.

How does RCP help to promote the work students do?

RCP uses both social and traditional media to publicize the work of students and faculty, and stories about RCP projects frequently appear in on-campus publications and local media. Providing RCP staff with periodic updates and photos about the progress of your project helps us promote your work to a broader audience (provide your updates here). In addition, RCP hosts an annual End-of-Year Celebration where students are invited to participate in a poster session about their RCP projects.

Does RCP provide any financial support for projects?

RCP will reimburse reasonable project-related expenses incurred by faculty or students, including travel to and from our community partner, printing, and supplies. Lodging, meals, computer hardware or software, and parking at the University of Minnesota are NOT eligible expenses. To request reimbursement, you must submit a completed and signed U of MN Reimbursement Form, as well as itemized receipts for any eligible expenses. Follow these instructions for submitting a reimbursement request.

Is an RCP project something I can include on a resume or curriculum vitae, or in a portfolio?

Yes! An RCP project is a great way to demonstrate to future employers that you have hands-on, professional experience working collaboratively with and on behalf of a community partner or client.

How can I get more information about RCP?

Frequently Asked Questions for Faculty

What is the Resilient Communities Project (RCP)?

The Resilient Communities Project (RCP, www.rcp.umn.edu) is an award-winning cross-disciplinary program at the University of Minnesota that supports one-year partnerships between the university and communities in Minnesota to advance local sustainability and resilience. The idea behind RCP is simple: Connect the students and faculty at a world-class teaching and research institution with local communities to address economic, social, and environmental issues, needs, and opportunities and make the world a better place.

How does RCP work?

Each year, RCP selects one partner community (typically a city or county) through a competitive request-for-proposal process. Working with staff and stakeholders in the community, RCP helps to identify 15–30 potential project ideas that will advance local sustainability and resilience based on community-identified environmental, social, and economic issues and needs.

RCP then serves as a centralized “matchmaker,” strategically connecting these projects with existing UMN courses or with independent student efforts (such as a field experience, honors project, or thesis) that can provide research or technical assistance to move the projects forward. Local government staff and stakeholders work closely with faculty and students to provide local knowledge and deeper insight into the issues, ensuring projects are relevant to the community context. Outcomes from each University course or student project are documented in a final report and presentation to the community partner.

Who can participate?

This program is for faculty (including adjunct faculty and lecturers) at any University of Minnesota campus who:

  • teach an existing graduate or upper-division undergraduate course
  • are interested in assisting a local community with a high-priority project designed to advance local sustainability and resilience
  • would like to incorporate a real-world project into their course—either as part of an existing assignment that has an applied-learning, service-learning, or community-engagement component, or in place of an existing assignment that requires students to work on a “hypothetical” project or problem

Participation in the program is completely voluntary, and participating one year does not commit anyone to a subsequent year (although most faculty choose to remain involved).

View a list of faculty who have previously partnered with RCP.

I already have students in my courses work on community-based or service-learning projects with partners or clients. Why should I link my course with an RCP project?

We applaud the fact that many faculty already require that students in their courses work on community-based or applied-learning projects, and recognize that faculty can solicit such projects on their own. Our goal is not to supplant these efforts, but we believe RCP does offer a different model for how to engage community partners.

One significant benefit of this model for faculty is that RCP provides logistical support for projects throughout the semester, making it much easier and more efficient to incorporate a meaningful community-based project into your course.

In addition, RCP is scaled for impact. The program is focused on a single community for an entire academic year, which allows for a much deeper and more sustained collaboration. By linking your course with an RCP project, you connect your students to a larger, longer term effort that will have a visible impact in the partner community.

What is the time commitment?

Although there may be a small upfront time investment to set up the project or course assignment, in most cases, very little additional time is required to participate in RCP. Frequently, participating in the program makes teaching applied courses easier and less time-consuming, as there is a coordinator finding projects, bringing partners to the table, and organizing logistics.

We recognize that faculty have many demands on their time, and our goal is to minimize or eliminate barriers to participation. RCP staff will do much of the set-up work for you, including connecting you with project leads in the community, helping to develop a scope of work for the project your students will undertake, ensuring data and background information that students will need for the project are available at the beginning of the semester, and orienting your students to RCP, the partner community and the project.

What are the benefits for faculty of participating in RCP?

RCP benefits faculty by providing ready-made opportunities for students to engage in real-world projects with a committed community partner, providing the infrastructure and material support necessary to make the partnership successful, and sharing widely the work that students and faculty are doing on behalf of our partnership.

  • Partner community commitment: Because communities apply for and pay to participate in the RCP program, you can be certain that projects have been well-vetted, and that you and your students will have a committed partner at the table throughout the semester.
  • Staff support: RCP will assist you in identifying a project, connecting with community partners, gathering information or data sets, accessing city resources, setting up or adapting learning activities—all the components to make your course activity successful.
  • Financial support: Each participating RCP course can apply for up to $500 to support project-related course activities. Funds can be used to purchase materials and resources needed for the project, reimburse student travel, pay a stipend to guest speakers, or for other approved uses.
  • Publicity: RCP uses social media—and works with campus communicators and traditional media such as local, regional, and campus news organizations—to share stories about RCP projects and ensure that you and your students receive recognition for the good work you’re doing in the community.
How do students benefit from participating in an RCP-linked course or project?

RCP provides many benefits for students who collaborate with the program, including:

  • Efficient access to high-quality and well-organized community projects
  • Experience applying knowledge and skills to real-world issues
  • Potential to advance local sustainability and resilience and make a difference
  • Financial support for travel and other costs associated with the project
  • Opportunities to network with local government and industry personnel
  • Local and regional visibility and recognition for their work
What is my responsibility as a faculty member participating in an RCP project?

Faculty can choose to connect an entire course (i.e., a capstone, lab, or design studio), or an existing class project assignment within a course, to an RCP project, based on what works best for their particular course and curriculum. As a faculty participant, we ask that you:

  • incorporate at least one classroom activity or assignment focused on a city-identified project in which students interact with, and present their work to, city staff;
  • supervise and/or review student work to ensure high-quality, professional deliverables;
  • allow RCP to do a brief, 10­–15 minute classroom presentation describing the program early in the semester to students working on RCP projects;
  • share with RCP staff the names and email addresses of students in your course working on RCP projects so we can communicate with them directly when needed;
  • maintain regular and timely communication with RCP and the community partner as needed throughout the project to ensure a collaborative working relationship;
  • assist RCP with obtaining digital copies of all student deliverables at the end of the semester; and
  • help RCP to identify a high-achieving student in your class with whom we can contract after the semester has ended to create a summary report and/or poster.
What is my course deliverable?

Typically, the course deliverable to the community partner includes the final reports or papers students turn in for a grade on the assignment, as well as a class presentation of their key findings and recommendations. Depending on the nature of the course and the project, RCP may also contract independently with a student in your course after the semester ends to produce a summary report of the best designs, solutions, and products generated by your class, and/or to design a poster summarizing the project for display at our annual End-of-Year Celebration in May. RCP is ultimately responsible for providing the community partner with digital and hardcopy versions of all deliverables, and will post these materials on the RCP website.

Do I need a background in sustainability to participate in RCP?

No, your expertise in your discipline and the work of your students can help our community partner meet their sustainability goals whether or not you have a background in sustainability or explicit course content focused on sustainability. For instance, a course project that provides recommendations that could lead to financial savings, staff efficiencies, or increased resident access to city services all support RCP’s goal of contributing to the quality of life and sustainability of our partner communities.

Are there opportunities to develop a new course?

Although RCP’s primary focus is on simply redirecting activities that are a part of existing courses to meet the needs of our community partner, we can work with interested faculty and with staff at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Educational Innovation to develop a new course (or rework an existing course or assignment) to connect with the RCP program. 

How do I get involved?

There are many ways to get involved:

  1. Let us know you’re interested! Contact RCP Director Mike Greco at mgreco@umn.edu or 612-625-7501 to find out more or to share your ideas.
  2. Check out the list of projects identified by our community partner to see if there are connections with a course you’re teaching.
  3. Meet with RCP staff to connect with community partners and develop your course project.
  4. Attend our annual RCP End-of-Year Celebration in May to see examples of projects that students have completed in other courses and get ideas for how your own course might participate.

RCP at the Fair: Scott County Partnership Kickoff

Photo of 1950s Scott County Carousel

RCP and Scott County kicked off our yearlong partnership at the Scott County Fair at the end of July.

RCP joined Scott County staff in talking with fairgoers about the goals of the partnership, the 14 projects identified by the County, and ideas for making Scott County and its residents more resilient. Numerous community members stopped by to share their connections to the University of Minnesota and learn more about the collaboration. Fairgoers were also encouraged to participate in an online survey to help RCP and the County gather  preliminary input on key projects. If you live in Scott County, you canstill  take the survey through the end of December 2018.

The Scott County Fair was a fun opportunity to connect with community members and celebrate our partnership. Stay tuned throughout the year for more events and ways to get involved in advancing resilience and sustainability in Scott County!

Images: The iconic 1950s Scott County Carousel (above); Alan Herrmann (below), SmartLink Transit Supervisor for Scott County, is leading a project with U of MN students that will explore options for improving mobility in the County through rideshare/ownershare.

 Photo of Alan Herrmann

Ramsey County Projects

For the 2018–2019 academic year, RCP is partnering with Ramsey County on 15 projects designed to advance and align the county's strategic priorities and goals of well-being, prosperity, opportunity and accountability.

Building Community Resilience to Emergencies among Vulnerable Populations (RC 1) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Judd Freed, Emergency Management Director, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Coordinate efforts to build overall resilience in Ramsey County communities that will enhance resilience in times of natural or human-caused disaster. Identify, gather, aggregate and validate data to develop and map a Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) of Ramsey County; identify other Ramsey County agencies that might make use of the SVI.

Culturally-Appropriate Crisis Interventions (RC 2) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Alyssa Conducy, Human Services Manager, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Create a better understanding of what culturally-responsive family model care looks like that combines research and direct community feedback; identify community groups and organizations that serve under-represented populations, design and conduct listening sessions or facilitated conversations, conduct literature reviews of existing research, and recommend strategies to increase access to county services.

Youth-Continuum of Care: Learning From Others (RC 3) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Kevin Williams, Policy Analyst, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Coordinate and comprehensively discuss, evaluate, review and prioritize efforts to improve outcomes for Ramsey County youth; research how other jurisdictions evaluate and measure outcomes and program performance to compare and contrast with Ramsey County.

Integrating Health and Justice: An Evaluation of Health Needs in Ramsey County’s Justice System (RC 4) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Katrina Mosser, Integrated Health and Justice Administrator, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Obtain and analyze data from the Adult Detention Center (ADC) to gain a better understanding of the health needs of individuals at the facility, propose strategies and interventions to reduce the prevalence of unmet health needs, and improve outcomes to realize Ramsey County’s vision of a community where all are valued and thrive.

Removing Transportation Barriers to Employment Opportunities for WFS Program Participants (RC 5) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Max Holdhusen, Policy Analyst, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Conduct a needs and barriers assessment on transportation resources through focus groups with Ramsey County Workforce Solutions (WFS) program participants and better involve businesses in the suburban Ramsey County region who face challenges in recruiting and maintaining job seekers due to a lack of public transportation options.

OLPD 5201 Strategies for Teaching Adults (Instructor: Dr. Rosemarie Park) Fall 2018

Stability Starts with a Place Called Home (RC 6) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Maria Wetherall, Director, Veterans Services Office, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Develop a literature review on housing stability-related initiatives external to Ramsey County and an evaluation of local housing and homelessness research. Including recommendations to align and leverage county programs with external initiatives and assistance with planning and executing a 2018 community convening on housing stability.

GIS as a Communication Tool: Designing and Developing a Construction Map (RC 7) (PDF iconPDF)
Project LeadMatt Koukol, GIS Manager
Project Goal: Create a single application and map where the county and all cities can add and update their construction plans and progress with a public interface that allows residents to see current and planned projects.

GIS 5574 Web GIS and Services (Instructor: Justin Hansen) Fall 2018

Exploring the Use of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program for Multifamily Buildings (RC 8) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Mary Lou Egan, Community and Economic Development Specialist, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Identify barriers for residential usage of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program, identify successful national case studies of multifamily projects that utilized PACE, and make recommendations for how PACE could be used specifically for affordable housing developments and naturally-occurring affordable housing (NOAH) in Ramsey County.

PA 5721 Energy Systems & Policy (Instructor: Jennifer Edwards) Fall 2018

Opportunities for City and County Collaboration on Climate Resiliency (RC 9) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Mary T’Kach, Energy and Sustainability Planner, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Help determine what role Ramsey County can play to help cities within the county optimize resources, leverage the work of the county and others in energy, resiliency and climate vulnerability work and accelerate results across the county. Also help identify cities within the county interested in working collaboratively with other local units of government to further their work on climate resiliency and adaptation.

Innovative Storm Water Management Practices for the Rush Line Bus Rapid Transit Project (RC 10) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Frank Alarcon, Transit Planning Specialist, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Analyze and provide recommendations for pursuing key partnerships, developing stormwater management techniques and establishing stormwater management principles, beyond just mitigation, to guide decisions throughout the corridor.

Making Connections: Reducing Food Waste While Improving Food Security (RC 11) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Rae Eden Frank, Environmental Health Supervisor, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Research information concerning wasted food and the challenges that exist in getting it to sources where it can be distributed for human consumption; conduct interviews with local businesses and organizations to get a picture of the local landscape and identify issues specific to this region.

Economic Development Fellows (EDF): (Team Lead: Matt Lupini) Fall 2018

Evaluating the Impact of the Environmental Response Fund (ERF) in Ramsey County (RC 12) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Mary Lou Egan, Community and Economic Development Specialist, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Assess and evaluate the outcomes of Environmental Response Fund (ERF) funded projects post-2012 and how they compare to the proposal in the application.

Economic Development Fellows (EDF): (Team Lead: Angelo Yuan) Fall 2018

Empowering Citizens to Vote (RC 13) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Joe Mansky, Elections Manager, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Analyze the reasons for chronically low rates of registration and participation by young voters in Saint Paul Ward 1, Precinct 9, located in the Frogtown neighborhood; develop and implement a marketing plan to encourage more young voters to register and vote in state, city and school district elections.

POL 1914: Generation Now: Young Adult Political Action in America (Instructor: Dr. Scott Abernathy) Fall 2018

Exploring Attitudes Toward a Modern Street Car Line along West 7th Street (RC 14) (PDF iconPDF)
Project LeadFrank Alarcon, Transit Planning Specialist, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Examine stakeholder concerns regarding the loss of on-street parking that could affect access to businesses and create parking spillover into adjacent neighborhoods to acquire a deeper understanding and assist in the process of preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).

RCP Graduate Research Project (Student: Ashleigh Walter) Fall 2018

Putting Residents First: Accessibility of County Service Facilities (RC 15) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Max Holdhusen, Policy Analyst, Ramsey County
Project Goal: Identify locations for effective and equitable county service facilities and explore private redevelopment of other county-owned properties.

GIS 5578 GIS Programming (Instructor: David Haynes) Fall 2018

2018–2019 Partner: Ramsey County

Ramsey County is partnering with the Resilient Communities Project (RCP) for the 2018–2019 academic year on 15 projects. Nine county departments representing the county’s five Service Teams will participate in the partnership.

Located in the heart of the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area, Ramsey County is the second-most populous county in Minnesota and home to about 10 percent of the state’s residents. It is also the most racially and ethnically diverse county in the state, and is challenged with some of the highest areas of concentrated poverty in the metro area.

The year-long collaboration will focus on six main topic areas:

  1. Community health and safety
  2. Transportation access
  3. Housing and economic development
  4. Energy and climate
  5. Environmental stewardship
  6. Inclusive and meaningful community engagement

Ramsey County plans to use the partnership to further the county’s goals to strengthen well-being, cultivate prosperity, enhance opportunity and model accountability. The partnership will also strengthen the county vision for a vibrant community where all are valued and thrive.

About Ramsey County

Ramsey County was established on October 27, 1849, and was one of the original counties of the Minnesota Territory. Today, more than 540,000 Minnesotans make their homes in Ramsey County. Predominantly urban, Ramsey is Minnesota’s smallest and most densely populated county, spanning 170 square miles. Saint Paul, the capital of Minnesota and the county seat, is home to about 56 percent of the county’s residents. Ramsey County communities are nationally known as attractive, livable places rich in history, diversity, and opportunity. Learn more about the history and diversity of Ramsey County.

Ramsey County provides a variety of programs and services to county residents and visitors. Services the county provides include:

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“The RCP partnership is a wonderful opportunity for our organization to advance and align our strategic priorities and goals of well-being, prosperity, opportunity and accountability. This program will allow us to collaboratively develop innovative strategies that prepare Ramsey County for future growth in community resiliency and sustainability and support our vision of a vibrant community where all are valued and thrive. Our staff are very excited to partner with U of M students to establish the framework for programs and initiatives that will directly benefit our residents for several years to come.”
—Julie Kleinschmidt, Ramsey County Manager

RCP Staff Photo_M_Greco
Mike Greco
Director
Resilient Communities Project
mgreco@umn.edu | 612-625-7501

RCP Staff Photo_S_Tschida
Sarah Tschida
Program Coordinator
Resilient Communities Project
tschi066@umn.edu | 612-625-6550

RCP Staff Photo_A_Walter
Ashleigh Walter
Graduate Assistant
Resilient Communities Project
rcpgra@umn.edu | 612-625-1085

Scott County Projects

For the 2018–2019 academic year, RCP is partnering with Ramsey County on 14 projects designed to help advance the county's long-range 2040 comprehensive plan and strategic goals. 

Creating a Community Land Trust in Scott County (SC 1) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Linda Janovsky, Scott County CDA
Project Goal: Explore best models and approaches to creating a Community Land Trust (CLT) in Scott county; gauge demand, research best practices for affordability, assess benefits of CLT programs for families, research public-private models and potential funding sources, implementation, and marketing ideas.

Investigating Alternative Methods for Property Assessment (SC 2) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Michael Thompson, Scott County Assessor
Project Goal: Assess effectiveness of current property assessment methods, research areas that have implemented alternative property assessment methods to compare and contrast, research savings associated with alternative assessment methods, and propose policy changes to ensure, if new standards are adopted, they are able to be utilized in the future.

Creating an Edible Landscape (SC 3) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Jamie Bachaus, SHIP Community Planner
Project Goal: Identify the feasibility and begin planning for a Food Forest at a city or regional park or other publically-owned land that would contain low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production.

PUBH 7994: Culminating Experience (Students Kristine Mcintyre & Jenna Yeakle) Academic Year 2018/19 

Diversifying Agricultural Land with Perennial Crops (SC 4) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Paul Nelson, Scott County Natural Resources Manager
Project Goal: Explore the potential for perennial food crops that can both provide the benefits of living cover and produce an economic return that would potentially incentivize greater participation by farmers.

ESPM 5245: Sustainable Land Use Planning & Policy (Instructor: Dr. Mae Davenport) Fall 2018

Managing Next Generation Household Waste (SC 5) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Kate Sedlacek, Scott County Environmental Health Manager
Project Goal: Provide information and analysis that can inform planning for future household waste management. Projections of future demand for HHW facilities, research on demographic use to pinpoint populations or areas not utilizing the service, recommendations for both outreach and future growth.

Open Self-Serve Library Feasibility Assessment (SC 6) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Kristy Rieger, Scott County Library Technology Manager
Project Goal: Assess the feasibility of creating an "open library" facility in the Scott County Library System by assessing community interest, technical and operation requirements, best models and practices, possible locations or needed re-designs, and benefits and impacts of an open library service.

Integrating Early Childhood Data (SC 7) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Jake Grussing, Scott County Library Director
Project Goal: Conducting an early learning program and data inventory and providing recommendations for potential multi-system data integration; research what programs exist, what data is available for tracking development, how is that data being shared and how can this be improved, and what other data integration models are being successfully used elsewhere.

LAW 7606: Law Independent Research (Instructor: Steve Kelley, Student: Sarah Leneave) Fall 2018

Fostering Employer-Assisted Workforce Housing (SC 8) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Julie Siegert, Scott County CDA Housing Director
Project Goal: Analyze different Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) models to determine effectiveness at attracting and retaining a workforce and identify specific businesses or business sectors in Scott County that would benefit from and potentially participate in an EAH initiative in the county.

PA 5512 Workforce & Economic Development (Instructor: Neal Young) Fall 2018

Increasing Landlord Participation in Rental Assistance Programs (SC 9) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Molly Link, Scott County CDA
Project Goal: Discover the barriers that discourage rental property owners and managers in Scott County from accepting Section 8 vouchers, identify opportunities to correct misinformation or misperceptions of the program or the people who participate in it, create a marketing strategy to encourage greater rental property owner and manager participation in the program in the future, and identifying other strategies to increase access to affordable housing in Scott County.

PA 5311 Program Evaluation (Instructor: Peter Bernardy) Fall 2018

Planning for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (SC 10) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Mark Callahan, P.E., Scott County Traffic Engineer
Project Goal: Research how connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) will reshape urban design, land use, and transportation in rural and suburban communities; how are plans being made to anticipate these changes, how should large entertainment destinations/venues and freight land use clusters plan and design?

PA 5211: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Fall 2018

Improving Mobility through Rideshare/Ownershare Options (SC 11) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Alan Herrmann, Transit Supervisor
Project Goal: Explore a public private partnership model for addressing ride share needs; assess advantages and disadvantages, available subsidies for residents with income barriers, creating a program that can transition or add CAV.

PA 5211: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Fall 2018

Measuring Costs of Services for Rural Land Uses (SC 12) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Brad Davis, Scott County Planning Manager
Project Goal: Conduct a Cost of Community Services Study for the County's three broad land use categories guided in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan: Agricultural Preservation (1/40 density), Rural Residential (1/2.5 density), and Rural Commercial/Industrial.

Promoting Active Living for Scott County (SC 13) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Nathan Moe, Parks Planner
Project Goal: Produce an analysis and engagement process to better understand how policies can affect access to active living within suburban and rural communities; conduct a policy analysis on how communities support active living and identify any barriers for suburban and rural communities; review policies, ordinances, and plans related to active living and analyze assets, gaps, barriers, and opportunities.

Evaluating Eminent Domain Settlements for Highway Projects (SC 14) (PDF iconPDF)
Project Lead: Lisa Freese, Transportation Director
Project Goal: Research local eminent domain processes that improve infrastructure projects and yet protects land owners and tax payer interests; conduct a policy analysis on how Eminent Domain Statutory changes have impacted local highway projects focusing on cost increases and settlement rates resulting from the 2008 statutory changes.

LAW 7606: Law Independent Research (Instructor: Professor Alexandra Klass, Student: Stephanie Gruba) Fall 2018

2018–2019 Partner: Scott County

Scott County is partnering with the Resilient Communities Project (RCP) for the 2018-2019 academic year on 14 projects. Five county departments will participate in the year-long collaboration with RCP: Environmental Services, Roads and Transportation, Health and Human Services, Parks and Trails, and Libraries. The Scott County Community Development Agency and the Statewide Health Improvement Plan will have active roles in the partnership as well. With multiple phases of long range plans, studies, and action plans coming to fruition in 2017–18, Scott County hopes to capitalize on the partnership with RCP to drive implementation and move these planning efforts forward.

Scott County is located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul and is bounded on the west and north by the Minnesota River. Established by the Minnesota Legislature on March 5, 1853, after the Mendota and Traverse des Sioux treaties were signed, Scott County was named after General Winfield Scott, an officer in the War of 1812, Commander of the United States Army during the Mexican War, and an unsuccessful Whig candidate for the presidency in 1852. General Scott never visited Scott County, but in 1824 he made an official inspection of nearby Fort Snelling.

Scott County has been the fastest growing county in Minnesota for the last few decades. Home to Shakopee, Savage, Jordan, and Belle Plain, Scott County contains eight cities and eleven townships covering an area of 365 square miles. Much of Scott County’s growth has been due to its location on the Minnesota River, which supported the county's fur trading, lumber, and farming industries in the 1800s. More recent growth can be tied to the opening of the Bloomington Ferry Bridge in 1995, which connected Scott County residents with employment opportunities in the southwest Twin Cities metropolitan area. The population increased 55 percent between 1990 and 2000, growing to an estimated population of 143,680 residents in 2016.

Today Scott County enjoys a growing mix of commercial, industrial, and housing development, yet maintains a diverse rural flavor. The county is home to several historic, scenic, and entertainment destinations including Canterbury Park, Murphy's Landing, Elko Speedway, Mystic Lake Casino, the Renaissance Festival, and Valleyfair.

If you are a resident or business owner in Scott County, RCP and the County invite you to take this survey to share your thoughts on resilience in your community. 

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“We are very excited to partner with the University of Minnesota to undertake research that will help advance our long-range 2040 comprehensive plan. The timing is perfect. Looking at all of the community feedback and input gathered over the past two years as part of the 2040 planning process, we have identified some important research and analysis topics to move forward, and now we can match those research needs with University students, faculty and coursework. This is a unique opportunity to move right from plan creation into plan implementation with all of the great University resources at our side ready to assist.”
—Scott County Planning Manager Brad Davis

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Scott County to have access to the resources and cutting-edge research the University of Minnesota can share. This partnership will allow us to examine policy, project, and program initiatives—identified by our community—in a well-defined and collaborative way.”
Scott County Board Chair Tom Wolf

RCP Selects Scott and Ramsey Counties as Next Community Partners

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (04/19/2018) — The University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP) today announced Ramsey County and Scott County have been selected as its community partners for the 2018–2019 academic year. Due to both finalists’ strong proposals, it marks the first time in its six-year history the program will assist two partners in a given year.

RCP, housed within the U of M’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, seeks to connect students’ innovation, ingenuity, and fresh perspectives with local government agencies to learn about their needs, conduct research, and develop solutions. In the coming months, staff will define the scope and purpose of individual projects before matching them with courses offered at the University in fall 2018 and spring 2019.

“We’re very excited about our upcoming collaborations with Scott and Ramsey Counties,” said RCP’s Director Mike Greco. “Each community brings to the table a unique set of issues and projects. Working with staff, residents, and other partners in these communities will provide U of M students with incredible experiential learning opportunities, while increasing each county’s capacity to remain resilient in the face of rapid economic, social, and environmental changes.”

Ramsey County’s proposal identified up to 18 potential projects, including removing transportation barriers to employment, increasing housing stability, building resilience among youth and vulnerable populations, strengthening collaboration on climate resilience, reducing food waste and food insecurity, increasing voter participation, exploring innovative stormwater management practices, and improving access to county service facilities.

“The RCP partnership is a wonderful opportunity for our organization to advance and align our strategic priorities and goals of well-being, prosperity, opportunity and accountability,” said Ramsey County Manager Julie Kleinschmidt. “This program will allow us to collaboratively develop innovative strategies that prepare Ramsey County for future growth in community resiliency and sustainability and support our vision of a vibrant community where all are valued and thrive. Our staff are very excited to partner with U of M students to establish the framework for programs and initiatives that will directly benefit our residents for several years to come.”

Scott County’s proposal identified 14 potential projects, including investigating self-serve libraries, planting edible landscapes, diversifying agricultural production, managing hazardous waste, improving early childhood education, fostering employer-assisted housing, increasing participation in rental-assistance programs, planning for autonomous vehicles, promoting active living, and investigating the cost of services in rural areas.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Scott County to have access to the resources and cutting-edge research the University of Minnesota can share,” said Scott County Board Chair Tom Wolf. “This partnership will allow us to examine policy, project, and program initiatives­—identified by our community­—in a well-defined and collaborative way.”

Beginning in September, the University and counties will collaborate on more than a dozen multidisciplinary projects to advance resilience and sustainability.

Once paired, counties can enhance their capacity to address complex issues by gaining access to thousands of hours of research from hundreds of students and faculty in a wide range of programs and disciplines—from architecture, planning and engineering, to business, environmental sciences and the humanities. Students will present their findings and recommendations at the conclusion of the semester.

About the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
The University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) connects the resources of the University of Minnesota with the interests and needs of urban communities and the region. CURA pursues its urban and regional mission by facilitating and supporting connections between state and local governments, neighborhoods, and nonprofit organizations, and relevant resources at the University, including faculty and students from appropriate campuses, colleges, centers or departments. To learn more, visit cura.umn.edu.

About Ramsey County
Located in the heart of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, Ramsey County is home to the state’s capital, Saint Paul, a vibrant local economy and more than 525,000 residents – about 10 percent of Minnesota’s population. The state’s smallest county geographically, Ramsey County is the only fully urbanized county in Minnesota and includes communities known nationally as attractive, livable places rich in history, diversity and opportunity. Ramsey County provides a variety of services to residents and visitors, including assistance and support programs, seven library locations, 6,500 acres of parks and recreational facilities, public safety and legal services, job readiness programs, recycling and yard waste facilities, and maintenance of a 293-mile county road system. Learn more at ramseycounty.us.

About Scott County
Scott County, a rapidly growing and diversifying area in the southwestern area Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, has long been known for its blend of urban, suburban, and rural environments complemented by spectacular natural resources and a rich cultural history.  A population growth leader since 1990, more and more people and businesses are relocating to the area because of its unique combination of accessibility to the core cities and other regional hubs, and its desirability due to a high quality of life and the many housing and recreational options afforded residents and business owners alike. To learn more, please visit www.scottcountymn.gov.

Contacts: Mike Greco, director, Resilient Communities Project, mgreco@umn.edu,  612-625-7501; Allison Winters, Communications Manager, Ramsey County, allison.winters@ramseycounty.us, 651-401-5703; Brad Davis, Scott County Planning Manager, bdavis@co.scott.mn.us, 952-496-8654.

RCP-Ramsey End-of-Year Celebration

Please join us for the Resilient Communities Project End-of-Year Celebration! This open-house style event will showcase student work completed through the 2017–2018 RCP partnership with the City of Ramsey.

Friday, May 4, 2018
9:00–11:30 am

A.I. Johnson Great Room, McNamara Alumni Center
University of Minnesota East Bank Campus
(map and parking)

This is a great opportunity to meet the students, faculty, and staff who collaborated on 21 projects designed to help Ramsey become a more vibrant, livable, and resilient community. We’ll also recognize several outstanding participants in this year’s partnership, and introduce RCP’s next community partner.

No RSVP is required

Light breakfast and beverages will be served

Celebrating the RCP-City of Ramsey Partnership

Faculty, students, and community partners mingle at RCP’s End-of-Year Celebration on May 4. Photo © Steve Schneider 2018

On Friday, May 4, University of Minnesota faculty and students celebrated with City of Ramsey residents, public officials, and staff at the Resilient Communities Project’s 2018 end-of-year event, held at the McNamara Alumni Center on the U of MN’s East Bank Campus in Minneapolis.

During the two-hour event, students presented nearly two dozen posters representing their work on 21 projects that were part of this year’s RCP partnership with Ramsey, a growing northwest suburb of the Twin Cities located on busy Highway 10 and along the Northstar Rail Line. Posters highlighted the findings and recommendations from some of the more than 50 student teams from across 16 academic departments at the University of Minnesota that participated in the partnership.

The collaboration provided the city and its residents with case studies, data analysis, concept plans, designs, and policy recommendations to build resilience in Ramsey, and offered more than 275 students the opportunity to tackle real projects as part of their coursework, working directly with Ramsey city staff, residents, and business owners.

Ramsey's acting mayor John LeTourneau thanked RCP for partnering with the City, promising that "The data and the information that the students and everyone else have brought forward is going to be applied in many different ways" as Ramsey strives to remain resilient in the face of rapid growth.

Scott County planning director Brad Davis and Ramsey County policy and planning director Elizabeth Tolzmann, who will be coordinating next year's partnerships with Scott and Ramsey County, also spoke briefly at the event, complimenting the quality of the student work on display at the event, and expressing their growing excitement about their upcoming collaboration with RCP and the University.

Although all of the students, faculty, and community partners who participated in this year’s collaboration contributed to the partnership’s success, several individuals who made outstanding contributions were recognized at the event. Congratulations to the awardees, and thanks to all who contributed to this year’s outstanding partnership with Ramsey!



Rena Weis (center) and Vini Taguchi (right) accept the Outstanding Student Project award. Photo © Steve Schneider.

Outstanding Student Project

Student Team: Mark Christenson, Ann Lokke, Darrin Rickbell, Vini Taguchi, and Rena Weis

Ramsey Project: “The Draw: Algal Removal Feasibility Study” (storm water management and water quality)
Course: CEGE 5511: Urban Hydrology and Water Quality (taught by Dr. John Gulliver, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering, College of Science and Engineering)

 


Chris Anderson (right) accepts the Outstanding Project Lead Award. Photo © Steve Schneider.

Outstanding Project Lead

Project Lead: Chris Anderson, City Planner and Environmental Coordinator, Planning and Zoning Department, City of Ramsey
Ramsey Projects: “Protecting Our Investments: Piloting a Tree Inventory," "Integrating Resources into Our Future: Natural Resources Management and Outreach," "Restoring Our Edge: Mississippi Shoreline Restoration," and "Reduce Waste, Reuse Resources: Expanding an Organics Recycling Program"

 


Stacy Doepner-Hove accepts the Outstanding Faculty Partner award. Photo © Steve Schneider.

Outstanding Faculty Partner

Faculty Member: Stacy Doepner-Hove, Director, Master’s program in Human Resources and Industrial Relations (Carlson School of Management)
Courses: Course Instructor for HRIR 6304: Employee Development: Creating a Competitive Advantage and HRIR 5992: Independent Study in Human Resources and Industrial Relations, both of which participated in RCP projects with Ramsey this year

Stepping Up: Developing Career Ladders for Ramsey City Employees

By Dan Herrera

Attracting and retaining quality staff are important goals for any organization, and the City of Ramsey is no exception. Staff with a longer tenure working for the City tend to be more familiar with the culture of the community and the needs of residents, enabling staff to respond to issues and provide services to residents more effectively and efficiently. This is especially true for public works staff charged with maintaining Ramsey’s vital and growing infrastructure systems.

Ramsey’s public works staff includes many skilled employees who complete specialized training required to do their jobs. In 2016, public works employees voiced a desire for a system that recognizes workers for completing advanced training. Although the idea was presented to city council, it saw little action until Ramsey partnered with the Resilient Communities Project.


Kelly Dahl, 2016

Under the guidance of Stacy Doepner-Hove, director of the Master’s Program in Human Resources and Industrial Relations at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, graduate student Jess Zamora-Weiss began working with Ramsey Human Resources Manager Colleen Lasher to investigate the idea further this past fall via an independent study project arranged through RCP.

Zamora-Weiss set to work developing an employee development strategy and “career ladder” program for Ramsey’s public works employees. The program is designed to not only recognize employees for pursuing advanced training, but also help them identify and take advantage of educational and skill-building opportunities that would allow them to move from entry-level jobs to positions in the organization that offer higher pay and more responsibility. “The main goal of this project was to retain and motivate the workforce within the public works department,” Zamora-Weiss explained. Beyond simply acknowledging staff for pursuing training, she noted, “[t]he career development program signals to workers that their employer is willing to invest in them and their careers, which can engender a sense of reciprocity from the workers and make them want to stay longer.”

To design the program, Zamora-Weiss began by investigating how peer cities such as Coon Rapids, Champlin, and Anoka have approached employee development and career advancement for their employees 

To ensure the program she recommended was tailored to the unique needs and circumstance of Ramsey employees, Zamora-Weiss reached out directly to current employees, union representatives, and senior staff to gather their input and perspectives. “I asked supervisors a lot of questions, and assured them that I was only bringing them information and they were the true experts in this field,” she explained. “Deferring to them in this way not only allowed me to develop a great working relationship, but it also assured that I would get the right information so that what I was developing would be relevant and useful.”

The employee development program Zamora-Weiss ultimately recommended encourages employees to enroll in relevant education and training programs that increase on-the-job skills and enhance overall job performance. To support participation, the City of Ramsey would reimburse employees for tuition or training costs, books and classroom supplies, and fees for licenses or certificates. Employees must qualify to participate in the program, and must satisfy City-specified participation and academic requirements to remain eligible.

In addition, Zamora-Weiss designed career ladders for the city’s mechanics and park, street, utility, and building maintenance workers. The career ladders identify minimum educational and licensing requirements to advance within the organization and move up the career ladder to higher paying jobs.

Lasher hopes that the employee development program Zamora-Weiss designed not only ensures that employees maintain the necessary training and skills to do their jobs, but also demonstrates that the City values its employees and their contributions—resulting in greater dedication and a higher standard of performance. “While we don’t have a problem with absenteeism here, I think that a more engaged, well-trained employee is going to be more present both physically and mentally,” she explained. “That brings value to the residents of Ramsey.”

Public works staff have already expressed enthusiasm for the program. “We have not rolled the program out yet, but we have sat down with our union stewards…and they were so impressed,” Lasher noted. “They were just in awe…at how it had come together, because initially their vision was just to be recognized for some of the training they had accomplished. But it really took a form that I don’t think they had expected.”

Zamora-Weiss explained that she also benefitted greatly from the opportunity RCP provided to work on the project. “This is a project that I can put on my resume and it is [an] experience that I know I will utilize in my future work as an HR representative.”

In addition to the research Zamora-Weiss completed last fall, Professor Doepner-Hove partnered with RCP and Ramsey again this spring through her graduate-level course, Employee Development: Creating a Competitive Advantage to help the city explore other employee development issues. Teams of students in the course researched and prepared recommendations on issues ranging from onboarding new employees and fostering employee engagement to performance management, employee diversity and inclusion, and employee wellness.

The employee development and career ladder proposal is well on its way to being implemented. 

Although there are still aspects of the program that must be clarified and fine-tuned, Lasher reported that the program will be proposed to city council in the near future, and she hopes it might be in place as early as January 1, 2019 if the council approves it. Despite being months away from implementation, Lasher already views the project as a success. “One of the big reasons that we have been interested in the career ladder—and it was something that we have wanted to get done for a long time—is that…it is a win-win-win. It is a win for employees, for management, and for the community as a whole, and we think it will produce some really great results down the road.”

Dan Herrera is a program associate for the Resilient Communities Project

RCP Selects Scott and Ramsey Counties as Next Community Partners

RCP Selects Scott and Ramsey Counties as Next Community Partners

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (04/19/2018) — The University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP) today announced Ramsey County and Scott County have been selected as its community partners for the 2018–2019 academic year. Due to both finalists’ strong proposals, it marks the first time in its six-year history the program will assist two partners in a given year.

RCP, housed within the U of M’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, seeks to connect students’ innovation, ingenuity, and fresh perspectives with local government agencies to learn about their needs, conduct research, and develop solutions. In the coming months, staff will define the scope and purpose of individual projects before matching them with courses offered at the University in fall 2018 and spring 2019.

“We’re very excited about our upcoming collaborations with Scott and Ramsey Counties,” said RCP’s Director Mike Greco. “Each community brings to the table a unique set of issues and projects. Working with staff, residents, and other partners in these communities will provide U of M students with incredible experiential learning opportunities, while increasing each county’s capacity to remain resilient in the face of rapid economic, social, and environmental changes.”

Ramsey County’s proposal identified up to 18 potential projects, including removing transportation barriers to employment, increasing housing stability, building resilience among youth and vulnerable populations, strengthening collaboration on climate resilience, reducing food waste and food insecurity, increasing voter participation, exploring innovative stormwater management practices, and improving access to county service facilities.

“The RCP partnership is a wonderful opportunity for our organization to advance and align our strategic priorities and goals of well-being, prosperity, opportunity and accountability,” said Ramsey County Manager Julie Kleinschmidt. “This program will allow us to collaboratively develop innovative strategies that prepare Ramsey County for future growth in community resiliency and sustainability and support our vision of a vibrant community where all are valued and thrive. Our staff are very excited to partner with U of M students to establish the framework for programs and initiatives that will directly benefit our residents for several years to come.”

Scott County’s proposal identified 14 potential projects, including investigating self-serve libraries, planting edible landscapes, diversifying agricultural production, managing hazardous waste, improving early childhood education, fostering employer-assisted housing, increasing participation in rental-assistance programs, planning for autonomous vehicles, promoting active living, and investigating the cost of services in rural areas.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Scott County to have access to the resources and cutting-edge research the University of Minnesota can share,” said Scott County Board Chair Tom Wolf. “This partnership will allow us to examine policy, project, and program initiatives­—identified by our community­—in a well-defined and collaborative way.”

Beginning in September, the University and counties will collaborate on more than a dozen multidisciplinary projects to advance resilience and sustainability.

Once paired, counties can enhance their capacity to address complex issues by gaining access to thousands of hours of research from hundreds of students and faculty in a wide range of programs and disciplines—from architecture, planning and engineering, to business, environmental sciences and the humanities. Students will present their findings and recommendations at the conclusion of the semester.

About the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
The University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) connects the resources of the University of Minnesota with the interests and needs of urban communities and the region. CURA pursues its urban and regional mission by facilitating and supporting connections between state and local governments, neighborhoods, and nonprofit organizations, and relevant resources at the University, including faculty and students from appropriate campuses, colleges, centers or departments. To learn more, visit cura.umn.edu.

About Ramsey County
Located in the heart of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, Ramsey County is home to the state’s capital, Saint Paul, a vibrant local economy and more than 525,000 residents – about 10 percent of Minnesota’s population. The state’s smallest county geographically, Ramsey County is the only fully urbanized county in Minnesota and includes communities known nationally as attractive, livable places rich in history, diversity and opportunity. Ramsey County provides a variety of services to residents and visitors, including assistance and support programs, seven library locations, 6,500 acres of parks and recreational facilities, public safety and legal services, job readiness programs, recycling and yard waste facilities, and maintenance of a 293-mile county road system. Learn more at ramseycounty.us.

About Scott County
Scott County, a rapidly growing and diversifying area in the southwestern area Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, has long been known for its blend of urban, suburban, and rural environments complemented by spectacular natural resources and a rich cultural history.  A population growth leader since 1990, more and more people and businesses are relocating to the area because of its unique combination of accessibility to the core cities and other regional hubs, and its desirability due to a high quality of life and the many housing and recreational options afforded residents and business owners alike. To learn more, please visit www.scottcountymn.gov.

Contacts: Mike Greco, director, Resilient Communities Project, mgreco@umn.edu,  612-625-7501; Allison Winters, Communications Manager, Ramsey County, allison.winters@ramseycounty.us, 651-401-5703; Brad Davis, Scott County Planning Manager, bdavis@co.scott.mn.us, 952-496-8654.

RCP-Ramsey End-of-Year Celebration

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Please join us for the Resilient Communities Project End-of-Year Celebration! This open-house style event will showcase student work completed through the 2017–2018 RCP partnership with the City of Ramsey.

Friday, May 4, 2018
9:00–11:30 am

A.I. Johnson Great Room, McNamara Alumni Center
University of Minnesota East Bank Campus
(map and parking)

This is a great opportunity to meet the students, faculty, and staff who collaborated on 21 projects designed to help Ramsey become a more vibrant, livable, and resilient community. We'll also recognize several outstanding participants in this year's partnership, and introduce RCP's next community partner.

No RSVP is required

Light breakfast and beverages will be served

Coming Home to Ramsey: Housing Diversity and Community Resilience

Submitted by Dan Herrera on December 12, 2017 - 9:35am

Photo © Steve Schneider, 2017

Historically, the City of Ramsey has developed like most suburban communities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. In the 1970s, when Ramsey incorporated as a city, residential development was characterized by single-family detached housing—ramblers and split-level homes built on large, rural lots with private well and septic systems. By the mid-1980s, municipal sewer and water services became available, and lot sizes began to shrink, although most housing continued to be single-family detached homes.

Today, the City of Ramsey is keenly aware of the housing options that are available to residents—both current and prospective. “In the past, there have not been a lot of housing options for first-time homebuyers and young families,” noted Tim Gladhill, Ramsey’s community development director. “So when people moved out of their family house, they had to leave the community to be able to find housing. At the same time, the elderly population struggled to find housing that fit their desires.”

Rather than simply surrendering to market forces and hoping for the best, Ramsey has taken a proactive approach to attracting a diverse range of housing that is affordable to residents of various income levels and that accommodates a variety of lifestyles and household situations. Many of the housing options in Ramsey today are still traditional single-family detached units on quarter-acre lots, which often prove to be too costly for first-time buyers or downsizing empty-nesters. But Ramsey has also encouraged development of higher density townhomes, apartments, and other affordable units in The COR, the city’s mixed-use downtown area. “We want our residents to be able to stay close and be able to [access] the entire housing spectrum without leaving Ramsey,” Gladhill noted, as he explained the reasoning behind the city’s current housing plan.

This year’s partnership with RCP has provided an opportunity to further investigate the community’s current housing situation and future needs as Ramsey prepares to update its housing plan in 2018. This fall, RCP paired Gladhill with Dr. Becky Yust’s class, “Housing and the Social Environment,” in the College of Design. Yust and her students are working with Gladhill to identify potential housing options for Ramsey that would create what Yust refers to as a “life-span community.”

As a class assignment, Yust had each student in the class select a demographic profile—for example, a newlywed, a senior, or a single young professional—and attempt to find appropriate housing in the city that would meet their lifestyle needs and budget. One student in the class, Nima Meghdari, explained that although he is not part of the demographic he was assigned to, he found the experience to be eye-opening. “Every single group is a little different. . .[and] it’s really hard to put yourself in their shoes,” he explained.

Meghdari took on the persona of an aging senior resident. He found that accommodations most appropriate for this demographic tend to cater to those with a higher income level, effectively shutting out many less well-off seniors. In addition, the housing that is affordable tends to segregate senior residents from the rest of the city and from people of other ages. To address this situation, Meghdari will recommend that Ramsey build such housing closer to the center of town to provide better access to amenities and services.

Meghdari wasn’t the only student in Yust’s class who proposed moving housing that catered to their assumed demographic from Ramsey’s periphery to its more community-oriented core. Most students explained that a sense of community is vital to a healthy population, and noted that while the City may already know this, it doesn’t hurt to remind them how historical residential development patterns in Ramsey persist and continue to work against that goal.

Housing students touring Oak Terrace Estates. Photo by Dan Herrera, 2017. © The Regents of the University of Minnesota.

Oak Terrace Estates, a manufactured home park in Ramsey that is nestled along the city’s busy Highway 10 corridor, is a case in point. Although the park contains Ramsey’s most affordable housing, it is physically isolated from the rest of the city and is essentially accessible only via automobile.

Gladhill noted that Ramsey has made it a high priority to reconnect Oak Terrace residents to the rest of the community. One approach has been to connect residents with community organizations such as Youth First, a local nonprofit that works with underserved and at-risk middle and high school students in and around Ramsey. Youth First is strategically located next to Oak Terrace so youth in the neighborhood can access the organization’s services without depending on transportation. “Many of them have been coming to our program for years,” commented Amanda Sappa, the organization’s executive director. “They see our center as a second home.”

Youth First ensures that each of its program participants has access to what it calls the five fundamental promises for success: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education, and opportunities to give back. The program is popular among young residents of Oak Terrace, and has helped to connect some youths to the larger community. Sappa recalled that the organization took students to the city’s Holiday Tree lighting ceremony last winter, and to a community tree planting event in the spring.

Still, such trips are not enough to overcome the physical isolation of the manufactured home park, or the stigma often associated with living in a low-income area. Unfortunately, for the city’s poorer residents, developments like Oak Terrace are the only housing available. According to Gladhill, “For those 90 or so households in Oak Terrace Estates, there isn’t another housing option for them within Ramsey at that price.”

So what can be learned from the exercise that Yust’s students engaged in with Ramsey? Simply put, although Ramsey has a relatively diverse housing stock for an outer-ring suburb, housing options are tight. Some residents, like those in Oak Terrace Estates, may want to leave their lonely corner of town but can’t afford to live elsewhere in the city. Others may have the financial means to move closer to The COR or to other areas of the city with better access to jobs, retail, parks, or schools, but housing that meets their lifestyle needs or household situation is limited and in high demand.

To be fair, this problem is hardly unique to Ramsey. Meghdari noted that “it’s a larger picture issue. . . . When it comes to housing, there are very few communities that are doing something that makes a difference.” But the class agreed that one thing does make Ramsey stand apart from its suburban peers: the mere fact that the City sees the issue and is trying to address it.

The students hope that their work—and the work of other classes that are participating in the RCP partnership—will help guide the City’s decision making by helping policy makers better understand the housing needs of both current and future residents. “Twenty years ago we had a vision. . .to change the makeup of our housing stock,” Gladhill noted. With the insight into demographic-specific housing preferences provided by Yust and her students, Gladhill and his colleagues aim to transform that vision into a reality.

Managing Storm Water Sustainably through Better Engineering

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Ramsey residents flock to the large, linear park in the center of town each summer, almost religiously. Some carry fishing poles or frisbees, others a blanket or lawn chairs, but they are all headed to the same place: The Draw. A 2.6 million gallon pond that doubles as a social hub for the city, The Draw is bordered by a stage and amphitheater on one side, with a large expanse of grass and parking on the other. Residents visit this unique water feature so often that it has become a natural part of the summer routine. But if you look closely, you will find that very little of The Draw is natural at all.

The Draw was constructed by the City of Ramsey in 2010 as a storm water retention pond in advance of the commercial and residential development anticipated in The COR—the mixed-use town center that surrounds the pond. Because the soil in Ramsey tends to be very sandy and porous, the pond was partially lined with an impermeable barrier so it retains water that can then be used to irrigate the surrounding park during the dry summer months. Unfortunately, this creates the perfect conditions for filamentous algae—also known as pond scum or water net—which thrives in stagnant, nutrient-rich waters with high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. The single-celled algae reproduce rapidly to form long, hair-like strands that eventually coalesce into large, mat-like colonies that can cover the entire surface of the water body. During the summer months, the algae grow quickly enough to successfully outcompete more beneficial aquatic vegetation. In fall and winter, as the dying algae decompose and consume oxygen, the resulting low-oxygen environment can cause fish kills.

Since essentially all of the water that fills The Draw is storm water runoff from the surrounding area, it’s no surprise that the water contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and other pollutants picked up from nearby lawns, sidewalks, and streets. What is less clear, however, is how to go about fixing the problem. Problems with current storm water management practices are hardly unique to Ramsey, but limited budgets and preexisting infrastructure often make it difficult to do anything to address the issue. That is why John Gulliver, a professor of civil, environmental and geo-engineering at the University of Minnesota, has been focusing his research efforts on the implementation of novel storm water management practices and the mitigation of pollution from runoff in urban areas. Gulliver also imparts this knowledge to students in his Urban Hydrology and Water Quality class, which explores storm water management and water quality for small watersheds through theory and practical application.

Like many courses, Gulliver’s class often used fabricated datasets so students could apply the concepts they were learning to more life-like situations. In an ideal world, students would have had the opportunity to work with real projects rather than classroom exercises. But given the number of students in the class, which caters to both undergraduate and graduate students, Gulliver would have had to find multiple projects for his class each year. “You go out to somebody in the field and they might have one project, but not four or five projects,” Gulliver explained. To accommodate his entire class, this might mean working with city staff from multiple communities to identify projects and work out the logistics, always with the risk that the community partner might lose interest or decide to drop the project entirely mid-semester. Given the time and commitment required on Gulliver’s part, and the uncertainty inherent in working with a community partner, he simply did not feel comfortable introducing real-world projects into his course.

Dr. John Gulliver, College of Science and Engineering, U of MN

That changed, however, when Gulliver was approached by the Resilient Communities Project (RCP) for the first time in 2012. RCP not only finds a willing partner city that will commit to a year-long partnership, but also coordinates the logistics of individual projects as well. RCP provided the structure and reassurance that Gulliver needed to feel confident replacing the hypothetical projects in his course with real-world counterparts. “[The RCP approach] was an innovation that was needed for a long time,” he noted. Moreover, RCP continues to coordinate and support the project throughout the semester, ensuring that both the city staff and students understand and are working toward a common goal, and have the information and resources they need to succeed. “The RCP program provides a framework for [the students] to work from,” explained Gulliver.

Although RCP might make introducing experiential learning into their classes simpler for faulty, the program is ultimately intended to benefit their students. “Students are demanding these kinds of experiences and have expectations that they will have these kinds of engaged experiences,” explained RCP cofounder and Humphrey School of Public Affairs Associate Dean Carissa Slotterback. Introducing real-world projects in the classroom provides students with valuable hands-on experience in their fields, something that can provide a leg-up in the increasingly competitive job market they face upon graduation. “All students like real applications,” Gulliver remarked, and “it’s greatly improved my course.”

Over the years, Gulliver and RCP have collaborated on storm water management projects in four different communities. During RCP’s pilot-year partnership with Minnetonka, many of the ideas that Gulliver’s students put forward were adopted shortly after the partnership ended. According to City of Minnetonka staff, the student-recommended policies and practices that were implemented have resulted in a measurable increase in storm water runoff quality throughout the city.

Gulliver’s students hope to achieve similar success this year as they tackle urban hydrology issues in Ramsey. One team has been tasked with identifying innovative ways to control the growth of algae in The Draw. One obvious solution is to reduce the amount of nutrient pollution from runoff that enters the pond, but the team will explore other possible remedies as well, such as introducing a competing plant species or using creative algae-harvesting techniques.

A second student team will be exploring options for managing storm water runoff in a more urbanized area of the community, where rainfall and snow melt currently flow into Emerald Pond from nearby Emerald Pond Park and the surrounding residential neighborhood. As the impacts of climate change become more severe, storm events in Minnesota are expected to become more intense, potentially increasing both the volume and rate of storm water runoff. This in turn increases the risk of localized flooding and makes it easier for pollutants to find their way into Emerald Pond and other water bodies.

One way to combat these problems is to temporarily hold runoff in a retention pond to settle out suspended solids and pollutants. However, in already developed neighborhoods such as those around Emerald Pond, there is often insufficient room to construct such a system. Consequently, Gulliver’s students will explore other potential solutions, such as incorporating storm water filtration and retention systems during street reconstruction projects, encouraging land owners to plant vegetative buffers, and cultivating tree stands specifically designed to mitigate runoff pollution. With such systems in place, the detrimental effects of harsher storms and higher flooding will hopefully be lessened.

City of Ramsey engineer Bruce Westby and parks and public works superintendent Mark RIverblood have made it clear that these two projects are high on their list of priorities for this year’s partnership with RCP, and they are eager to work with Gulliver’s students. Ramsey is bordered by both the Mississippi and Rum Rivers, is home to several large lakes, and has protected wetland habitat over more than 15% of its land area, demonstrating the ecological, social, and economic importance of water to the community. Gulliver and his Urban Hydrology and Water Quality students are hard at work to ensure that the health of Ramsey’s water resources is not threatened.

RCP-Brooklyn Park Project Wins APA MN Outstanding Student Project Award

Andrew Degerstom, Joe Lampe and Kevin Priestly, students at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, were honored by the American Planning Association’s Minnesota Chapter (APA MN) on September 28 with the organization’s Outstanding Student Project Award. The students’ projects were completed in conjunction with the Resilient Communities Project’s year-long partnership with Brooklyn Park during the 2016–2017 academic year.

The award recognizes the team’s collaboration with Brooklyn Park staff members Jason Newby and John Nerge to identify locations in the city where access to healthy food options is a challenge for residents, consider how a community kitchen or food hub might address these and other community needs, and research alternatives for disposing of food waste and grease from the city’s many restaurants. Their report, titled “Find It, Cook It, Save It: From Healthy Food Access to Food Hub Recycling in Brooklyn Park,” took the form of a series of 19 posters that visually guide the viewer through the issues, and their findings and recommendations. The project was completed for a semester-long assignment in Dr. Fernando Burga’s Introduction to Site Planning Class. Burga teaches students to use a variety of design software programs to communicate land-use and planning issues in a way that is visually engaging and ensures that the report will be used and referenced long after the project is over.

The report presents the team’s in-depth geospatial analysis of Brooklyn Park to identify areas of the city where residents without a vehicle have limited access to healthy food options, best practices from other cities to address food deserts, and personal interviews the group conducted with local families. The project is focused specifically on increasing access to quality foods in neighborhoods with low average household incomes.  Through the course of the report, the team builds a case for a food hub situated in the part of Brooklyn Park with the least access to quality foods. The proposed hub would include a commercial storefront, a community garden, and professional-grade kitchens that can be rented by Brooklyn Park residents.

Priestly, who worked on finding the ideal location for the food hub, ultimately hopes that the project is carried through and Brooklyn Park pursues a food hub. But whether or not it is built, he hopes the project helps facilitate conversation about how Brooklyn Park can adopt more equitable decision-making strategies. “[My] hope is that this project gives planning students, academics, professionals, municipal staff, and elected officials an example of how to navigate repressive structures of power—be they economic, political, or social—and in their place constructs an emancipatory, inclusive, and particularized form of power, grounded in diversity of race, creed, class, and origin,” stated Priestly, who now works for the Denver Council of Regional Governments.

For the student team, the collaboration with Brooklyn Park provided an opportunity to learn the skills required to navigate real-world planning issues and projects. “I gained a great deal from this work,” said Priestly, who noted the breadth of skills he learned through the project. “From how to work with clients and manage projects to technical skills such as creating bivariate maps and working with Adobe Creative Suite, all of which I’ve carried into new professional experiences.”

Find It, Cook It, Save It is the fourth RCP-sponsored student project to receive the APA Minnesota Chapter’s Outstanding Student Project Award since the RCP program started in 2012.

City of Ramsey Projects

For the 2017–2018 academic year, RCP partnered with the City of Ramsey on 21 projects matched with 20 courses at the University of Minnesota, offering 280 students hands-on, applied learning opportunities while providing the City with information, ideas, and new perspectives on locally identified community resiliency issues. Projects were designed to further the city’s strategic planning priorities, which include financial stability, a connected community, smart citizen-focused government, and an efficient organization. 

Community Identity and Engagement 

Every Voice Matters (Resident Engagement and Volunteerism Plan) Project Goal: Develop strategies and policies to expand the City's resident engagement efforts beyond land use policy to include other types of community issues and decisions; and facilitate volunteer opportunities that can cultivate future community leaders. Project Lead: Kurt Ulrich, City Administrator

PA 5253: Planning and Participation Processes (Instructor: Dr. Dan Milz) Fall 2017 Course Report + Poster

PA 8081: Planning and Public Affairs Capstone (Instructor: Dr. Dan Milz) Spring 2018 Course | Report + Poster

A Gathering Place for Community (Community Center Plan) Project Goal: Assess community need for and explore options to develop a recreation, performing arts, or other community center in the heart of The COR, a nearly 400-acre transit-oriented, mixed-use development along the Northstar Commuter Rail line. Project Lead: Patrick Brama, Assistant City Administrator/Economic Development Manager

PA 5253: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Fall 2017 Course Report

SMGT 3881: Senior Seminar in Sports Management (Instructor: Dr. Lisa Kihl) Spring 2018 Course | Report + Presentations

ARCH 3250/LA 3002: Design Workshop/Informants of Creating Landscape Space (Instructors: James Wheeler, Joseph Favour) Spring 2018 Course | Team 1 Report | Team 2 Report | Team 3 Report | Team 4 Report | Team 5 Report

Sustaining Our Legacy (Historic Town Hall Plan) Project Goal: Help the City develop a plan for the Historic Ramsey Town Hall, including opportunities for adaptive reuse or shared use at the current or other locations; and engagement strategies to involve the public in planning for the future of the facility. Project Lead: Kurt Ulrich, City Administrator

PA 5211: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Fall 2018 Course Final Report

ARCH 5672: Historic Building Conservation (Instructor: Todd Grover) Fall 2018 Course | Town Hall Report + Presentation | Wilson Farmstead Report + Presentation 

Creating Community Identity (Branding and Marketing Plan) Project Goal: Help the City develop a branding and marketing plan, and identify potential strategies to increase the City’s visibility and profile in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Project Lead: Kurt Ulrich, City Administrator

JOUR 8202: Generation and Selection of Communication Strategies (Instructor: Steve Wehrenberg) Spring 2018 Course | Team 1 Report | Team 2 Report | Team 3 Report | Team 4 Report

 

Housing and Economic Development

Encouraging Small Business Growth and Expansion (Business Incubator Plan) Project Goal: Build on the City’s successful business retention and expansion program by exploring new and emerging models for business incubators and other public or private business development initiatives. Project Lead: Patrick Brama, Assistant City Administrator/Economic Development Manager

PA 5511: Community and Economic Development (Instructor: Bob Streetar) Fall 2017 Course | Report + Presentation 

PA 5211: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Fall 2017 CourseReport

Economic Development Fellows Consulting Program (Mentor: Tim Tripp) Spring 2018 Course | Report + Poster + Presentation

Creating Housing Opportunities for All Generations (Housing Plan) Project Goal: Help the City update its housing plan by assessing current housing stock and housing gaps, identifying policies and financial tools to create a diverse housing stock, and designing a communications/outreach strategy to garner public support for the City’s housing goals. Project Lead: Tim Gladhill, Community Development Director

PA 5253: Planning and Participation Processes (Instructor: Dr. Dan Milz) Fall 2017 CourseReport + Poster

PA 5211: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Fall 2017 Course | Report

HSG 5467: Housing and the Social Environment (Instructor: Dr. Becky Yust) Fall 2017 Course | Report + Post Occupancy Evaluation + Presentations 

Creating Destination (Retail Market Analysis) Project Goal: Assist the City in attracting destination retail by identifying the types of retail likely to locate in Ramsey, and recommending marketing approaches, incentives, and other tools/strategies to attract retail development. Project Lead: Patrick Brama, Assistant City Administrator/Economic Development Manager

PA 5211: Land Use Planing (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Fall 2017 Course Report

PA 5511: Community and Economic Development (Instructor: Bob Streetar) Fall 2017 CourseReport + Presentation 

Paying for Future Infrastructure Needs (Development Fee Study) Project Goal: Help the City revise its approach to funding infrastructure by comparing Ramsey's current development fees to those in peer communities, investigating other mechanism to locally fund infrastructure improvements, and identifying cost-reduction strategies for infrastructure improvements and maintenance. Project Lead: Tim Gladhill, Community Development Director

PA 5211: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Report

 

Land Use and Transportation

Highway 10: A Community and Regional Focal Point (U.S. Highway 10 Corridor Plan) Project Goal: Assist with ongoing development of the City's U.S. Highway 10 Corridor Plan by assessing potential future land uses in the corridor, investigating incentive-based approaches to encourage building and site improvements, and identifying existing and emerging models for multimodal highway corridor planning. Project Lead: Tim Gladhill, Community Development Director

PA 5211: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Fall 2017 CourseReport 

PA 5253: Planning and Participation Processes (Instructor: Dr. Dan Milz ) Fall 2017 Course | Report + Poster

PA 8081: Planning and Public Affairs Capstone (Instructor: Dr. Dan Milz) Spring 2018 Course | Report + Posters

Connecting Ramsey (City-Wide Greenway Plan) Project Goal: Assist with development of a city-wide greenway plan by identifying incentive-based approaches to creating greenways; strategies for communicating to property owners the importance and value of greenway protection; and innovative storm water management design and policy solutions that leverage greenway investments. Project Lead: Mark Riverblood, Parks and Assistant Public Works Superintendent

PA 5211: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Fall 2017 CourseReport 

ESPM 5245: Sustainable Land Use Planning and Policy (Instructor: Dr. Mae Davenport) Fall 2017 CourseReport + Presentation 

ARCH 3250/LA 3002: Design Workshop/Informants of Creating Landscape Space (Instructors: James Wheeler, Joseph Favour & Jessica Rossi-Mastracci) Spring 2018 Course | Team 1 Report + Poster | Team 2 Report + Poster | Team 3 Report + Poster  | Team 4 Report + Posters

GEOG 5564: Urban Geographic Information Science and Analysis (Instructor: Dr. Ying Song) Spring 2018 Course | Marsh Gap Report | Greenway Accessibility Report | Circle of Ramsey Story Map

A Gathering Within: An Attraction Beyond (The COR Development Plan Update) Project Goal: Assist with update of The COR Development Plan for the City's transit-oriented town center by outlining an engagement strategy, assessing the sustainability of proposed land uses and opportunities to maximize development potential, identifying strategies for measuring market relevance and return on investment, and recommending implementation approaches to accommodate both short-term and long-term investments in The COR. Project Lead: Tim Gladhill, Community Development Director

PA 5211: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Fall 2017 Course | Report

PA 5253: Planning and Participation Processes (Instructor: Dr. Dan Milz) Fall 2017 Course | Report + Poster

PA 8081: Planning and Public Affairs Capstone (Instructor: Dr. Dan Milz) Spring 2018 Course | Report + Posters

 

Environmental Stewardship

Integrating Resources into Our Future (Natural Resources Management and Outreach Plan) Project Goal: Help the City update the Natural Resources chapter of the comprehensive plan by developing outreach and education strategies to communicate to residents the value of natural resource projection; identifying and prioritizing high-value natural resources for conservation or restoration; and identifying incentives and other non-regulatory strategies to protect and manage natural resources. Project Lead: Chris Anderson, City Planner

PA 5211: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Fall 2017 Course | Terrestrial Resources Report | Aquatic Resources Report 

PA 5253: Planning and Participation Processes (Instructor: Dr. Dan Milz) Fall 2017 Course | Report + Poster

ESPM 5245: Sustainable Land Use Planning and Policy (Instructor: Dr. Mae Davenport) Fall 2017 Course | Report + Presentation 

Preventing Flood Damage and Disaster (Floodplain Communications Plan) Project Goal: Identify communication strategies, as well as practical tools and resources, to encourage and assist business owners and homeowners to preserve natural floodplains and protect structures from flood damage. Project Lead: Bruce Westby, City Engineer

PA 5253: Planning and Participation Processes (Instructor: Dr. Dan Milz) Fall 2017 Course | Report + Posters

GEOG 5564: Urban Geographic Information Science and Analysis (Instructor: Dr. Ying Song) Spring 2018 Course | Report + Presentation + Poster

Reduce Waste, Reuse Resources (Organics Recycling Plan) Project Goal: Assess the feasibility of creating an organic waste recycling program by investigating local examples of successful organic waste diversion programs, identifying barriers to successful implementation, and documenting strategies to build local capacity for and public participation in such a program. Project Lead: Chris Anderson, City Planner

PA 5712: Science to Action (Instructor: Steve Kelley) Spring 2018 Course | Report

SUST 4004: Sustainable Communities (Instructor: Amir Nadav) Spring 2018 Course | Report

OLPD 5204: Designing the Adult Education Program (Instructor: Catherine Twohig) Spring 2018 Course | Report + Presentation

Clean Water, Clean Soil (Septic System Communications Plan) Project Goal: Identify best practices for private well and septic system maintenance, and outline a strategy for communicating to homeowners and business owners the importance of proper septic system maintenance so they will adopt these practices. Project Lead: Rick Jarson, Building Official

PA 5253: Planning and Participation Processes (Instructor: Dr. Dan Milz) Fall 2017 Course | Report + Posters

OLPD 5204: Designing the Adult Education Program (Instructor: Catherine Twohig) Spring 2018 Course | Report + Presentation

Will the Faucet Turn On? (Water Conservation Toolkit) Project Goal: Help the City develop a citywide water conservation approach by investigating regulatory, financial, and incentive-based approaches to reduce potable water usage; and outlining a public engagement strategy to gather resident input on proposed policy changes. Project Lead: Bruce Westby, City Engineer

PA 5253: Planning and Participation Processes (Instructor: Dr. Dan Milz) Fall 2017 Course | Report + Poster + Scorecard

SUST 4004: Sustainable Communities (Instructor: Amir Nadav) Spring 2018 CourseReport + Poster

Restoring Our Edge (Mississippi Shoreline Plan) Project Goal: Identify strategies and best practices for reducing soil loss and erosion along the Mississippi River, including public or private partnerships and financial assistance available to help impacted shoreline owners. Project Lead: Chris Anderson

PA 5211: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) | Fall 2017 Course | Report

ESPM 5245: Sustainable Land Use Planning and Policy (Instructor: Dr. Mae Davenport) Fall 2017 Course | Report + Presentation 

Storm Water Management Strategies Project Goal: Identify strategies and best practices for managing storm water to reduce flooding and improve surface water quality. Project Lead: Bruce Westby, City Engineer

CEGE 5511: Urban Hydrology and Water Quality (Instructor: Dr. John Gulliver) Fall 2017 Course | Emerald Pond Report + Presentation | The Draw Report + Presentation + Flyer 

 

Administration

Protecting Our Investments (Asset Management Plan) Project Goal: Inventory existing City assets such as streets and trails, storm water infrastructure, and boulevard trees; and develop a plan to manage these assets to ensure safety, maximum value, and return on investment. Project Lead: Bruce Westby, City Engineer

PA 5211: Land Use Planning (Instructor: Dr. Fernando Burga) Fall 2017 Course | Asset Management Report | Public Trees Report 

FNRM 5501: Urban Forest Management: Managing Greenspaces for People (Instructor: Dr. Gary Johnson) Spring 2018 Course | Report + Presentation + Volunteer Training Manual

Sustaining Our Team (Employee Development Plan) Project Goal: Assist with the creation of an employee development plan that includes training, professional development, career advancement, and volunteer opportunities. Project Lead: Colleen Lasher, Human Resources Manager

HRIR 5992: Independent Study in Human Resources (Instructor: Stacy Doepner-Hove) Fall 2017 Course | Report + Presentation 

HRIR 6304: Employee Development: Creating a Competitive Advantage (Instructor: Stacy Doepner-Hove) Spring 2018 Course | Employee Engagement | Onboarding | Performance Management | Employee Wellness | Workplace Diversity

Protecting the Public (Police and Fire Services Evaluation) Project Goal: Create a survey for business owners in Ramsey to assess satisfaction with Ramsey Police and Fire services. Project Lead: Brad Bluml, Police Captain

PA 5311: Program Evaluation (Instructor: Pete Bernardy) Spring 2018 Course | Report + Presentation + Survey Tool

2017–2018 Partner: City of Ramsey

The City of Ramsey was RCP’s community partner for the 2017–2018 academic year. A northwestern suburb of the Twin Cities only 25 miles from Minneapolis, Ramsey is located along the rapidly growing Interstate 94/U.S. Highway 10 corridor between the Twin Cities and St. Cloud, and has a stop on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line. Ramsey has long benefitted from its location on the Mississippi River. It contained one of the first permanent European settlements in the area, and was officially organized as Ramsey Township in 1857, a year before Minnesota was granted statehood. The township was incorporated as the City of Ramseyin November of 1974. The city’s population is projected to grow rapidly over the next two decades, from 23,000 residents today to nearly 35,000 residents and 13,000 households by 2040.

RCP partnered with Ramsey on 21 projects matched with 47 courses spanning 16 departments at the University of Minnesota, engaging more than 280 graduate, professional, and undergraduate students. You can view a summary of the partnership and projects, or learn more about individual projects by visiting the City of Ramsey Projects page.

RCP–City of Ramsey Partnership in the News:

2017–2018 Partner: City of Ramsey

The City of Ramsey is RCP’s community partner for the 2017–2018 school year. A northwestern suburb of the Twin Cities only 25 miles from Minneapolis, Ramsey is located along the rapidly growing Interstate 94/U.S. Highway 10 corridor between the Twin Cities and St. Cloud, and has a stop on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line.

Named for Alexander Ramsey, the first Territorial Governor of Minnesota, Ramsey has long benefitted from its location on the Mississippi River. It contained one of the first permanent European settlements in the area, and was officially organized as Ramsey Township in 1857, a year before Minnesota was granted statehood. The township was incorporated as the City of Ramsey in November of 1974. The city’s population is projected to grow rapidly over the next two decades, from 23,000 residents today to nearly 35,000 residents and 13,000 households by 2040.

RCP will partner with City staff and community stakeholders on 20 projects designed to further the city’s strategic planning priorities, which include financial stability, a connected community, smart citizen-focused government, and an efficient organization. Projects include small business incubation, community engagement, Highway 10 corridor planning, floodplain protection, public asset management, greenway planning, housing opportunity, organics recycling, retail market analysis, water conservation, and a resident volunteer program. Learn more about Ramsey’s projects >>

To keep up-to-date on the partnership, follow us on Twitter or at the hashtag #RCPRamsey, like us on Facebook, or sign up for our quarterly e-newsletter.

RCP–Ramsey Partnership in the News:

Opportunity is knocking! Don't miss your chance to be RCP's next community partner

Image by Flickr user njtrout_2000. Used under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0 License, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/.

The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) at the University of Minnesota is now accepting letters of intent from cities, counties, tribal governments, and regional partnerships that wish to apply to be RCP’s community partner for the 2018–2019 academic year (September 1, 2018 to August 31, 2019). The selection process is competitive, and the partner community must support the effort through dedicated staff time and a local financial contribution. The successful applicant will benefit from approximately 20,000 to 60,000 hours of work by University of Minnesota students and faculty, from a variety of disciplines, working to advance the partner’s sustainability and resilience projects. The partner city/county must support the effort through dedicated staff time and a local financial contribution. The selection process is competitive. More information about the RCP application process can be found here. Why apply to be RCP’s community partner? Nobody knows the answer to that question better than our past community partners, which have included Carver County and the Cities of Minnetonka, North St. Paul, Rosemount, Brooklyn Park, and Ramsey. Here’s what they’d like you to know about the value of their experience with RCP:

“While it’s hard to estimate what it would have cost the County and its partners to hire consultants to work on all these projects, we do know this has been a much more cost-effective approach that has yielded excellent results. We see these projects as something that will benefit local communities for years to come.” —James Ische, Chair, Carver County Board of Commissioners “This entire RCP process. . .is such a well-oiled machine.  It’s a true testament to [RCP’s] vision for connecting education with the real world. Introducing fresh ideas into our innovation efforts has ignited a spark for me and the Innovation Leadership Team.  We are grateful to have been a part of this journey. . .  It’s been a ride I’ll never forget! —Lorraine Brady, IT Project Manager, Carver County “What we received ultimately was very high quality, and it was great information for us as a City Council to look at, plan, and figure out how to utilize the information going forward in a positive way for the citizens in our community.” —Rosemount Mayor William Droste "Most of the projects were known priority needs prior to the city’s participation in the RCP program. Were it not for RCP, North St. Paul would not have been able to address those issue in a timely and cost effective manner. In our view, the RCP program was a vehicle by which the city could tap the numerous resources of the university for the betterment of our residents future." —Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, North St. Paul

"I think it really elevates the community’s opinion of the city because we have partnered with someone with a good reputation to do the work of the city. I think people can see that as both an efficient way to do business but also a smart way to do the city’s business. I wouldn’t underestimate the goodwill and the good PR that comes from participating in the RCP program.” —Julie WIschnack, Community Development Director, City of Minnetonka

Not only did we get fantastic work, but I think it’s really reinvigorated city staff. . .to be around students [and] faculty who have different ways of thinking and different ways of approaching an idea. So it has been an absolutely wonderful experience.” —Susan Thomas, Principal Planner, City of Minnetonka

Is your city, county, or tribal government ready to be inspired and reinvigorated by a partnership with RCP? Let us know by submitting a letter of intent by October 15. If you have questions about RCP, the letter of intent, or the application process, please contact Mike Greco, RCP Director, mgreco@umn.edu or 612-625-7501.

Celebrating the RCP-Brooklyn Park Partnership

On May 12, University of Minnesota faculty and students mingled with Brooklyn Park residents, city council members, and staff at the Resilient Communities Project’s 2017 End-of-Year Celebration, held at the McNamara Alumni Center on the U of MN’s East Bank Campus in Minneapolis. During the two-hour event, students presented more than two dozen posters representing their work on some of the 24 projects that were part of this year’s RCP partnership with Brooklyn Park, a demographically diverse and growing northwest suburb of the Twin Cities. The posters highlighted the broad range of research and technical assistance provided through the partnership, which matched projects with students in 45 U of MN courses spanning 21 academic departments and three campuses (Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth). During the year-long partnership, more than 250 students took part in an RCP project through a credit-bearing course or individual project. Brooklyn Park Council Member Rich Gates thanked RCP for partnering with the City during the 2016-2017 school year. "It was a pleasure to host the students and faculty who visited our City over the past 9 months," Gates said. "They were wonderful visitors who brought a fresh energy and attention to the 24 projects our community identified. The recommendations they've provided will inform the way we approach many issues in the years to come." Guests also got a sneak preview of a new video about the RCP-Brooklyn Park partnership that captures the experiences of some of the many people who participated in the year-long collaboration. The video was produced by Brooklyn Park communications coordinator Mary Tan, with the help of dozens of RCP participants who generously agreed to share their thoughts about RCP on camera. You can view the video on RCP’s YouTube Channel. Although all of the students, faculty, and community partners who participated in this year’s collaboration contributed to the partnership’s success, several individuals who made outstanding contributions were recognized at the event:

Outstanding Individual Student Project Aldona Martinka, School of Public Health (U of MN Twin Cities) “Evaluating Brooklyn Park’s Community Engagement Initiative” Master’s Project in the Community Health Promotion Program

Outstanding Student Team Project Mandi Wojciehowski, Brinda Dewan, Ayla Erickson, Nick Wagner, Nova Miller West, and Kelley Probst (U of MN Duluth) “Long-Range Management Plan for a Nature-Based Playscape” Project for EnEd 4315: Park Operations and Management (Instructor: Ken Gilbertson)

Outstanding Project Lead John Nerge, GIS Coordinator Administration Department, City of Brooklyn Park Project lead for “Accessing Access to Healthy Food in Brooklyn Park”

Outstanding Faculty Lead Greg Lindsey, Professor Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs (U of MN Twin Cities) Course instructor for PA 8081: Planning and Public Affairs capstone workshops, which completed work on three separate RCP–Brooklyn Park projects

Congratulations to the awardees, and thanks to all who contributed to this year’s amazing partnership with Brooklyn Park!                

Planning for Food Justice in Brooklyn Park

Residents of 13 Census tracts in Brooklyn Park live in what the U.S. Department of Agriculture deems a "food desert," defined as an area in which at least one-third of residents have difficulty accessing food. Because food deserts can have a significant impact on health and general well-being, Brooklyn Park partnered during spring semester with three University of Minnesota classes through this year's RCP partnership  to investigate opportunities to increase food security and sustainability. In Dr. Fernando Burga’s Introduction to Site Planning course, three urban and regional planning graduate students delved deeply into the relationship between urban planning, food justice, and equity in Brooklyn Park. Graduate students in an Urban GIS course, undergraduate food systems majors in a capstone course, and graduate students in an urban affairs course called Science to Action, also focused on food systems-related projects in the city.  

Assessing Access to Healthy Food in Brooklyn Park

Food access first surfaced as an issue in Brooklyn Park several years ago, when Hennepin County Public Health partnered with the local organization African Career, Education, Resource, Inc. (ACER) to assess general barriers to leading healthy lifestyles through the Brooklyn Park/Brooklyn Center Community Listening Project. Focus groups with residents of various ethnic backgrounds revealed that accessing healthy, affordable, and culturally relevant food is a significant challenge for many Brooklyn Park residents. Brooklyn Park saw the RCP partnership as an opportunity to address not only food access, but also health and well-being on a larger scale. “Access to affordable and healthy food has so many cascading impacts on quality of life for people,” noted John Nerge, GIS Coordinator for the City of Brooklyn Park and staff lead for a project focused on assessing access to healthy food in the city. Two students in a fall-semester Urban GIS course taught by Dr. Ying Song investigated access to healthy, affordable, culturally relevant food along the Zane Avenue corridor in Brooklyn Park, an area previously identified as one in which residents faced food access challenges. The corridor has a large proportion of African-born and African-American, Asian, and Latino residents, as well as the lowest median income and highest rates of poverty in Brooklyn Park. Yun Taek Oh, a graduate student in urban and regional planning, analyzed transportation barriers to accessing healthy food. His analysis showed that while many residents of the Zane Avenue corridor are within walking distance of a grocery store or a bus that would allow access to a store, three pockets of residents were outside the 0.25-mile area people will typically walk to a destination or bus stop. Natalie Loots, a master of public health student, focused on access to culturally relevant food. Through her analysis, she discovered that although convenience stores and chain or fast-food restaurants are prevalent in the corridor, stores or restaurants that offer culturally relevant options consistent with the demographic makeup of the corridor are more scarce. 

"Improving food access in the Zane ave corridor is particularly important because of the demographic makeup of the area," Loots concluded in her final report to the city. "It is the most populated, most diverse, and poorest area of Brooklyn park. The literature shows that, in general, populations living in areas demographically similar to the Zane ave corridor experience lower access to healthy food and disproportionately higher rates of obesity related disease than areas like the northern part of Brooklyn Park. This kind of health disparity is a major problem in the United States and a major problem in Minnesota." Kevin Priestley, a second-year MURP student, is building off of Oh and Loot's work to develop a more-in depth analysis and methodology to assess accessibility, cultural relevance, and affordability. Priestley is using American Community Survey data from the last five years, mapping enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), households living below the poverty line, and features of the built environment such as sidewalks and trails, all of which can impact a household’s ability to access food. Through his research, Priestley has found that there is a correlation between low physical connectivity, poverty status, and SNAP enrollment. For Priestly, food is integral to broader equity work being done in the city. “Food justice is important for Brooklyn Park because it is a potential wealth-building strategy,” Priestly noted. He sees food as the most basic way to create a sense of community and expose residents to new cultures and lifestyles.

Community Kitchen Feasibility Analysis

To encourage more community around food, as well as bolster economic development opportunities, Brooklyn Park is evaluating the potential for a community kitchen in the city. Brooklyn Park is home to a large population of new immigrants to the United States, and many newly arrived residents are entrepreneurs who want to establish their own businesses, many of which are food related. The initial idea for a community kitchen arose in 2004, when community development and code enforcement staff at the City realized that lack of commercial kitchen space was a real barrier for potential food businesses.   “[The] community kitchen idea was a solution to a problem we were seeing with some home-based food production," said Jason Newby, Code Enforcement and Public Health Manager for Brooklyn Park and staff lead for the community kitchen project. "We were finding products that were made from home and were offered for sale in some of our small markets,” creating risks to community health from food-borne illnesses, as well as community safety from residential kitchen fires. Brooklyn Park is currently developing a strategic plan for the city called BP 2025. Two major themes in the plan are fostering more community gathering space and increasing access to healthy, affordable food. A community-wide commercial kitchen would serve both of these goals by providing residents with a commercially-licensed workspace while also creating a community gathering location for residents to share meals and participate in other food-related programming. A team of students in Dr. Julie Grossman's capstone course, Holistic Approaches to Improving Food Systems Sustainability, interviewed staff at commercial kitchens and food hubs in the Twin Cities area, and conducted focus groups and surveys with a variety of stakeholders and residents in Brooklyn Park regarding their interest in a commercial kitchen or food hub concept. Their research showed significant interest in a commercial kitchen and related educational opportunities such as cooking classes, food safety training, and small business development. In addition, respondents desired access to cold storage, storefront space to market products, and a larger event space. Andrew Degerstrom, an urban and regional planning graduate student, focused on identifying a potential site in Brooklyn Park for a commercial kitchen space. His work and the work of Grossman's students are providing the necessary foundational research and momentum to propel the idea forward. Through working with RCP, "we now have the capacity to push this project, whereas before, it was something we thought about but didn’t have the ability to do it,” Newby noted.    

Restaurant Food Waste

The final (but often forgotten) part of the food system lifecycle is food waste, which constitutes 31% of all solid waste in Minnesota and is a potential pollution source for many cities. Gail Trenholm, Environmental Health Specialist for Brooklyn Park and staff lead for the City's organic waste projects, observed through interactions with local restaurant owners that many were not aware of food waste recycling options or grant opportunities available through Hennepin County to assist businesses interested in adopting more sustainable waste removal strategies. This prompted Trenholm and other Brooklyn Park staff to include a project in the RCP partnership focused on restaurant food waste disposal and recycling.   Two teams of graduate students in Steve Kelley's Science to Action course in the Humphrey School were tasked with investigating for-profit, nonprofit, and policy solutions to restaurant food waste disposal. One team focused on solid organic waste such as food scraps or spoiled food, while the other considered fats, oils, and grease, which are substantial byproducts of restaurant food production. Both teams identified a range of options for the City to explore further, while being mindful of the barriers to more sustainable organic waste disposal they discovered through their research, such as lack of knowledge among business owners, additional cost to businesses, and a lack of physical space to collect organic matter for pickup. Urban and regional planning graduate student Joe Lampe investigated waste recycling systems for items such as left-over groceries and cooking grease. He discovered that several larger businesses in Brooklyn Park are already taking measures to dispose of food waste through more sustainable means, although they don't widely publicize these efforts. Cub Foods, for example, donates left-over grocery items, and Dragon Star Supermarket operates with a one-company refuse disposal model that includes organic waste pick-up and recycling, a solution Lampe proposed for the City as a whole. Smaller businesses face more barriers to implementing sustainable disposal methods, but the City hopes that the approaches used by larger operations like Cub and Dragon Star can serve as models for other businesses.  

Next Steps

At the end of the semester, Lampe, Degerstrom, and Priestly—the three students in Fernando Burga's class—produced eight presentation-style poster boards highlighting their work, which they presented to City staff and stakeholders in early May. Burga believes that the poster boards have a greater impact than traditional written reports. “I think if you want to have an idea that may have legs and may forge a conversation, what you do is you create a social space in which people can gather and can look, discuss, and exchange ideas about the idea,” said Burga. “So the posters are basically instruments to create that social space.” For Brooklyn Park, the information gleaned from the RCP partnership will generate continued conversation about food access, security, and equity in the city. “I think the next steps will be to really digest the information that the students are collecting," said Nerge. "This [food access] project is a little unique compared to the others because it is really focused on doing that deep research and trying to understand the problem better. So then from there, [the next steps are] doing what the City can with some of the other [food-related] projects" to improve food access and food security. And all of the projects will involve continued relationship-building and engagement with residents to build more equitable food systems, especially in the unique and diverse context of Brooklyn Park. “You can kind of do a high-level overview of what a community kitchen might look like in Brooklyn Park, but I think the challenge for us is really engaging with those that are going to be impacted and are going to use it,” said Newby.

Diversifying Brooklyn Park's Police Department

As increased attention is being focused on police-community relations in the wake of high-profile police shootings, many cities across the nation—including Brooklyn Park—are evaluating how their police force is structured and staffed. Although Brooklyn Park is one of the most diverse cities in Minnesota, this racial and ethnic diversity is not reflected in the police department. Brooklyn Park began trying to diversify their police department in 2005, but their efforts were not met with success in recruiting more African-American candidates. Of the 99 officers on the force, only 4% self-identify as African-American. In contrast, 24% of the population of Brooklyn Park is African-American, according to the most current census data.

This discrepancy in representation is cause for concern, and the police department is investigating strategies to encourage more officers of color—particularly African-American officers—to join the force and remain in Brooklyn Park. To assist the police department, a pair of master’s students at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs took on this issue through this year’s RCP partnership, as part of a capstone project last fall. This spring, a team of Ph.D. students studying industrial and organizational psychology is continuing work on the project.

“If we have more diversity in our police department, it collectively makes us all better because we are aware and educated by each other’s diversity,” explained Deputy Chief and RCP project lead Mark Bruley, underscoring why this project was a high priority for Brooklyn Park.

The Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) establishes the minimum requirements to become a police officer in the state. Minnesota is one of only two states that requires at least an associate’s degree to be eligible to become a law enforcement officer. In addition, recruits must pass a POST licensing exam, completing training at a POST-accredited police academy, and pass a medical exam, physical agility exam, psychological evaluation, background check, and drug screening.

To help understand the nature of the issue in Brooklyn Park, master of public affairs candidates Mike Jiabia and Daniel D’Haem set to work analyzing data about who is enrolled in approved criminal justice or law enforcement degree programs in the state. As their work progressed, they discovered that this data is not readily available, which has been a barrier in many ways to bringing the issue of police force diversity into the spotlight.

“Minnesota has a system-wide problem when it comes to police officer diversity,” D’Haem commented. “And Minnesota, so far, has not done what it needs to do to even examine the problem.”

Due to the lack of available data, a large component of Jiabia and D’Haem’s mixed-methods research approach involved collecting data through focus groups, key informant interviews, and a survey.

The students held focus groups with African-American college students and African-American officers currently serving in Minnesota. The stories and lived experiences that they shared during these sessions offered insights that cannot be captured through quantitative data.

Dr. Greg Lindsey, a professor at the Humphrey School and faculty advisor on Jiabia and D’Haem’s capstone project, had the opportunity to observe one of the focus groups.

“I think what happens is that we understand the problems intellectually when we look at numbers,” Lindsey observed. “And so you have a situation in which you know intuitively, you know instinctively, you know intellectually, that’s a problem. But when you hear people tell stories about what it was like for them to become a cop and the challenges they face in being a black cop, it gives you a greater appreciation for what very humanly has to be done to get these problems to be solved.”

In addition to collecting qualitative data, Jiabia and D’Haem gathered as much quantitative data as they could about students sitting for the POST exam. Because complete data on the race or ethnicity of those taking the exam is not available, the students had to approximate the numbers of potential African American candidates. They found that there are relatively low numbers of African Americans enrolled in law enforcement or criminal justice programs—the most basic requirement to become an officer. Even fewer take the POST exam, with many more deciding to enter corrections as a career rather than training to become a police officer. In short, there are not enough African American candidates in the law enforcement training pipeline to address the problem.

“It was nice to actually have data to support what we’re talking about,” said Bruley.

One recruitment method that Brooklyn Park is already heavily investing in is their cadet training program. As part of the program, cadets in a POST-certified school are paired with a mentor currently serving as an officer, and are paid for their participation while they are in school.

Jiabia and D’Haem recommended that Brooklyn Park not only continue with the cadet program, but also expand the program’s outreach and add resources, a recommendation the City is already putting into action. Additional funds have been allocated for the program, and the Brooklyn Park Police Department is beginning to recruit students directly from local high schools to enter police training programs.

“Recruiting, specifically out of our high schools, kids who are African-American to come into our cadet program—we’ve never done that before, and that’s a byproduct of this research,” Bruley commented.

But the low numbers of African-American law enforcement candidates is only one piece of the problem. This spring, three Ph.D. students in Dr. Deniz Ones’ “Employee Selection and Staffing” course in the Department of Psychology are reviewing existing literature on police recruitment and retention, and conducting interviews with a variety of stakeholders, to develop additional recommendations.

“Given what we have experienced, both around the United States and in Minnesota, as well as in some of our local communities—though not necessarily Brooklyn Park—when there are discrepancies [between the demographic composition of the police department and the general population], problems emerge that actually tear communities apart,” Ones observed.

Focusing on what is known as community-oriented policing, Ones’ students will be digging deeper into how to help Brooklyn Park grow a police force that is more reflective of community demographics.

The students have developed a four-part plan that includes analyzing recruitment, improving the selection system, improving relations with the community, and reducing turnover in the police department. Informed by Jiabia and D’Haem’s foundational work in the fall, Ones’ team of students has decided to focus primarily on recruitment. Within their recruitment recommendations, they are developing short-, middle-, and long-term strategies. To better target recruitment efforts, the team is hoping to develop an interest profile survey to identify potential candidates who may be a good fit for the Brooklyn Park Police Department.

Sarah Tian, a first year Ph.D. student in the Industrial and Organizational Psychology program, discussed plans to build on the survey work Jiabia and D’Haem began in the fall. “We want to expand on that, and maybe survey the different aspects of job satisfaction. Like what exactly are they satisfied about their job. So we definitely want to build on that part.”

As they move forward with this work, there will be challenges. “I think the most difficult one is how to build better relations between the police department and the community. Because that is more of a wider, national problem that we may not be able to fully resolve,” noted Tian.

The final product from this work is something that may be useful to other communities, and is something that other police departments across the state are very interested in learning from. Deputy Chief Bruley will be presenting the findings from the fall semester to other police departments interested in changing their recruiting and hiring practices. Although the analysis Jiabia and D’Haem produced is specific to Brooklyn Park, their background research can also help other communities. Additionally, Ones noted that Brooklyn Park’s experience through this process may bring issues to the surface that other communities may not have otherwise considered, which is valuable in moving this work forward.

“[O]verall, I think maybe if this [is] a successful project, other police departments can learn from it, and not only Brooklyn Park can benefit,” said Tian.

End-of-Year Celebration May 12

Friday, May 12, 2017 2:004:00 pm

A.I. Johnson Great Room, McNamara Alumni Center University of Minnesota East Bank Campus (map and parking)

Please join us for the Resilient Communities Project End-of-Year Celebration! This open-house style event will showcase student work completed through the 2016–2017 RCP partnership with the City of Brooklyn Park.

This is a great opportunity to meet the students, faculty, and staff who collaborated on 24 projects to advance Brooklyn Park's mission of becoming a more resilient and sustainable community. We'll also recognize several outstanding participants in this year's partnership, and introduce RCP's next community partner, the City of Ramsey.

No RSVP is required

Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be served

Playing Towards a Healthier Brooklyn Park

Students from Ken Gilbertson's Operations and Management course in the field with project lead Brad Tullberg

Our worlds are increasingly occupied by screens and the absence of physical activity, a combination that has caused a national public health crisis. Obesity and obesity-related diseases are rising, especially among children. One solution health experts recommend is encouraging more physical activity through nature-based recreation. Nature-based recreation facilitates active interaction with nature, and the benefits extend beyond just physical health. It also can help children develop leadership and problem-solving skills, can teach children their limits, and can improve both emotional and cognitive development. For adults, interacting with nature has been linked to improved mental health.

Because of the myriad benefits, the City of Brooklyn Park is partnering with RCP to identify ways to include more nature-based recreation elements in their Recreation and Parks Master Plan, which is being updated in 2017. “Nature-based play helps kids kind of reconnect to nature,” noted Brad Tullberg, parks and facilities manager for Brooklyn Park's Recreation and Parks Department, and staff lead for the RCP project. “It’s a great tool for developing problem solving and risk analysis and all different things. . .[A]s we diversify our park inventory, we have a ton of traditional playgrounds. If we are able to add some nature-based play to different areas of our community, it certainly gives everybody a little different experience, and a different experience is available to everyone.”

Three courses have been examining nature-based recreation from different perspectives, including assessing which existing parks in the city can accommodate nature-based recreation elements, developing a long-range management plan and site designs for specific recreation elements, and creating a risk-management template City staff can use to assess and manage risks to park users associated with nature-based recreation.

Assessing Opportunities for New Nature-Based Recreation Elements

To assess the current state of nature-based recreation elements in city parks, as well as opportunities for introducing additional opportunities for natural play elements, five teams of students in Dr. Tony Brown’s "Research and Evaluation in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies" course developed evaluation criteria and conducted site analysis of the 60 parks throughout the city.  To facilitate this analysis, Tullberg divided the city into five regions, one for each student group, and asked students to visit and assess the parks in their region.

Tillery Bailey, a senior studying Recreation Administration and a student in Brown’s course, said she and her group began by researching existing nature-based recreation areas and developed a checklist of what made a successful recreation area. They then went to the sites with their checklist, took notes and pictures, and finally came together to assess park conditions and develop recommendations.

Each group developed a report outlining their evaluation process and offering recommendations for including nature-based recreation elements in city parks. At the end of the semester, the groups presented their work to Tullberg.

For Brown, a key element of his course is providing students with real-world experience through their course assignments. Students have the opportunity to apply the skills they are learning in the classroom, while also providing a useful product to the community partner.

Students in the course value this real-world experience. “I thoroughly enjoyed this project,” said Bailey. “My group, we loved it. Just being able to go out and implement what we were learning.”

Student Zoe Kesselring, who graduated in December with a degree in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies and a minor in Landscape Architecture, also saw value in participating in a project with a community partner. “I really appreciated the fact that this project was based in the real-world," Kesselring said. "I have done some real-world projects in other classes but nothing to this extent. Working with real-world parks, and people currently working in the parks and rec field, definitely raises the stakes as your performance in a project like this could contribute to your future employment opportunities.”

Participating in the project had immediate benefit for Bailey as well: She was able to discuss the experience in an internship interview, noting the evaluation skills she gained through this project.

Planning for Long-Range Management

Although including more nature-based recreation elements in the Brooklyn Park parks system is the City's ultimate goal, planning for how those additional park and recreation elements will be managed is also critical. To that end, five students from the University of Minnesota Duluth campus worked with Tullberg to develop a long-range management plan, as well as proposed site redesigns for three parks in Brooklyn Park.

Their course, "Operations and Management," is focused on management skills for environmental education majors. Students spend the first half of the course learning about annual facilities operations, and the second half devoted to community-based learning projects.

“Cooperative learning and project-based learning is really among the strongest learning tools for students,” noted Dr. Ken Gilbertson, the instructor for the course.

The students' final report focused on four components of long-range management for Brooklyn Park: (1) mission, vision, and objectives; (2) natural features; (3) social features; and (4) natural playscape designs and health benefits of interacting with nature. At the conclusion of the semester, the students traveled from Duluth to Brooklyn Park to present their work to an audience of city staff, elected officials, and residents.

Gilbertson believes that presentation skills are critical for students entering into the field of environmental education, and says the students treat their final presentation as a professional experience. “They are still teaching, they’re just teaching to a different audience,” Gilbertson noted.

Presenting their findings to Brooklyn Park was also a highlight for the students. “The best part was watching them during the presentation get excited about the things that we had come up with, and taking all our ideas further, which was awesome, because that’s what it’s meant for,” noted Ayla Erickson, an Environmental and Outdoor education student. Erickson had the unique opportunity to participate in the RCP-Brooklyn Park partnership through two courses, delving into both long-range management in Gilbertson's course, as well as risk-management strategies in another course at UMD.  For Erickson, this allowed her to see the larger picture of Brooklyn Park's needs. She was able to bring demographic research to the risk-management plan, and lead her team's work on the risk management section of the long-range management project.

Managing Risk for Nature-Based Recreation

A barrier to developing more nature-based recreation elements cited by many cities is the issue of risk management. Traditional playscapes are regulated by design restrictions that reduce risk to visitors, but nature-based play areas typically do not have the same regulations. Because of this, liability becomes a concern. Another team of students at the University of Minnesota Duluth campus tackled this issue. Through Danny Frank’s "Risk Management" course, students examined six parks in Brooklyn Park to assess risks to park users—particularly children—and provide recommendations for managing the potential risk associated with introducing new nature-based recreation elements.

Risk assessment for nature-based recreation carries unique challenges, primarily because there is more variability and unknowns. For Frank, however, this presents a creative opportunity.

“I think often times people get nervous about ‘well, it’s too unpredictable, we just can’t build this.’ but I think it’s more of a creative process of trying to be in the mind of a child and trying to figure out what are all the ways this person is going to try to hurt themselves,” commented Frank.

The students' assessments followed a 16-step model, and each student provided an overview of current conditions as well as recommendations to decrease risk at nature-based recreation sites. After their final report was completed, the students presented their work to Tullberg via video conference from Duluth.

For Tullberg, the projects provided staff with valuable information that can be used in their overall systems planning process. “When we go to look at this, when we look at Jewell Park, that [long-range management plan] will probably be the framework for where we start,” said Tullberg.

For more information about this project, see this news story on the University of Minnesota Duluth News website.

RCP Selects the City of Ramsey as Next Community Partner

Contacts: 

Mike Greco, Resilient Communities Project, mgreco@umn.edu, 612-625-7501

Tim Gladhill, City of Ramsey, tgladhill@cityoframsey.com, 763-433-9826

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/16/2017) — The University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP) announced today that the City of Ramsey, located in Anoka County, has been selected as its partner community for the 2017–2018 academic year. Starting in September 2017, Ramsey and the University will begin collaborating on 20 multidisciplinary projects that advance community from Ramsey’s Strategic Plan focused on a stable tax base, a connected community, smart citizen-focused government, and an efficient organization.

“This partnership builds on Ramsey’s history of being a leader in planning and citizen engagement strategies," said Ramsey Mayor Sarah Strommen. "Ramsey demonstrated its commitment to engaging residents in a collaborative way during our last Comprehensive Plan Update through the assistance of the McKnight Foundation and a citizen group known as Ramsey3. The launching of our next Comprehensive Plan Update represents an opportunity to partner with the University of Minnesota to develop more new and innovative strategies.”

Ramsey’s proposal to RCP identified nearly 20 potential projects, including small business incubation, community engagement, U.S. Highway 10 corridor planning, environmental and floodplain communication, asset management, greenway planning, housing for all, organics recycling, retail market analysis, water conservation, and a community volunteer program.

City Administrator Kurt Ulrich believes it will benefit from the broad range of expertise that can be provided by University staff and students. “Innovative solutions to today’s problems will help Ramsey be better prepared to provide efficient municipal service, and to realize a productive, safe, and healthy community for many generations to come,” he said.

Now in its fifth year, RCP—a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the U of M—seeks to connect students’ innovation, ingenuity, and fresh perspectives to local governments and agencies seeking a more sustainable and resilient future. The program matches U students with a single Minnesota city or county for an entire academic year. This will be the first year that RCP is partnering with a community in Anoka County.

“We’re truly excited about our upcoming partnership with the City of Ramsey,” said RCP’s Director Mike Greco. “As a growing city, Ramsey has identified a very diverse slate of projects. Working with Ramsey staff, residents, and community partners will provide students with great experiential learning opportunities, while increasing the city’s capacity to build a more resilient community in response to economic, social, and environmental changes. We look forward to a productive collaboration.”

A RCP partnership provides the community with access to students from a wide range of programs and disciplines—from architecture, planning and engineering, to business, environmental sciences and the humanities. Through work with RCP, the community is able to enhance its own capacity to deal with a variety of community issues. Students who participate in RCP projects benefit from real-world opportunities to apply their knowledge and training.

Over the next few months, staff from RCP and Ramsey will define the scope and purpose of the individual projects, and begin matching them with courses offered at the University in fall 2017 and spring 2018. RCP Director Mike Greco will administer the partnership on behalf of the University, and Ramsey Community Development Director Tim Gladhill will coordinate the City’s participation in the program.

About the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
The University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) connects the resources of the University of Minnesota with the interests and needs of urban communities and the region. CURA pursues its urban and regional mission by facilitating and supporting connections between state and local governments, neighborhoods, and nonprofit organizations, and relevant resources at the University, including faculty and students from appropriate campuses, colleges, centers or departments. To learn more, visit rcp.umn.edu or cura.umn.edu.

About the City of Ramsey
Located in the northwest Twin Cities Metro, the City of Ramsey boasts an urban downtown, incredible outdoor recreation opportunities, an impressive manufacturing sector, and a stable, proactive local government. Ramsey is bordered by the Mississippi River and the Rum River, has over 565 acres of parkland, an extensive trail system, two golf courses, and over four square miles of protected wetlands. Ramsey is an evolving community with thousands of acres guided by future development, but also focused on retaining a balance of rural and urban character along with strong economic development. Ramsey is home to The COR, an innovative transit-oriented, mixed-use development centered around the Northstar Commuter Rail – Ramsey Station. The City of Ramsey is home to nearly 6,000 jobs and 25,580 residents (based on Ramsey’s 2015 population count). To learn more visit cityoframsey.com.

Engaging Brooklyn Park

Eidem Farm

Many cities struggle to meaningfully and effectively engage their residents in planning and decision making. Although Brooklyn Park is far ahead of some of its peer cities in this regard, the growing diversity of the community is forcing staff to rethink public outreach and engagement for the twenty-first century. To help the City brainstorm strategies and tools for better outreach, RCP enlisted four teams of graduate students in Dr. Kathy Quick’s “Civic Participation in Public Affairs” course in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The students analyzed the challenges and opportunities for more effective public engagement related to four community initiatives: the City's upcoming comprehensive planning process; outreach to residents in rental homes; civic involvement of residents aged 50 and older; and a master planning process for the Eidem Farmstead. “Community engagement for Brooklyn Park right now is going to be kind of the underpinning of everything we do,” explained Pat Busch, program supervisor for the Brooklyn Park Recreation and Parks Department and staff lead for the Eidem Farmstead and senior engagement projects. “We need to understand other people. And we don’t know the answers. So until we reach out, and really take the time to build relationships and understanding, I don’t know that we can go forward with business as usual.”

Comprehensive Planning

Every 10 years, cities in the seven-county metropolitan area are required by state statute to update their comprehensive plans, which establish a vision and goals for community development over the next 20 years. Brooklyn Park is just beginning this process, and staff want to include more resident input about the city's future in that process. The comprehensive plan update coincides with a city strategic planning effort called Brooklyn Park 2025. To engage residents in that process, Brooklyn Park staff held a series of cafe-style engagement events, and encouraged residents to voice their input through an online platform. Through these outreach initiatives, the City hoped to discover broad themes to lay the groundwork for the comprehensive plan. However, staff have been challenged by how best to incorporate resident input into the upcoming comp planning process. This is where Quick’s students come in. After assessing Brooklyn Park's current outreach efforts, the team of Robin Brooksbank, Kevin Karner, Alex Kleppin, Shengnan Lou, and Eric King provided the City with tools and recommendations to increase participation from business owners, encourage more creative and long-term visioning, and help prevent burnout among residents from ongoing engagement efforts.   “Recognizing that there is no silver bullet to capture diversity in public engagement, we recommended Brooklyn Park create a [Public Action Committee] that would serve as a standing committee throughout the comprehensive plan outreach process,” explained Kleppin, a master of urban and regional planning student. “The committee would be made up of members of the community that Brooklyn Park hoped to reach—local business owners, millennials, renters, people of color, immigrants... These parties could give staff meaningful insight and feedback on current and future outreach efforts, recognizing from their own lived experience and local knowledge what methods might work best.”

Engaging Renters

Because residents who rent an apartment or house tend to be more transient and harder to reach through traditional communication channels than residents who own their homes, renters are often left out of engagement efforts and are disconnected from civic life in the city. Brooklyn Park has encountered obstacles in reaching renters and disseminating information to them, and was interested in fresh ideas for how to better connect with renters, invite their participation in planning the future of the city, and deliver timely information about community services and events. “Brooklyn Park decided to focus on renters for this RCP project because renters comprise a significant portion of the city’s population, and yet this demographic group has been relatively less engaged and less connected to community resources, issues, and opportunities for active involvement,” noted Lidiya Girma, neighborhood relations specialist for the City of Brooklyn Park and staff lead for this project. “As a City, we have a direct interest in making sure that all of our community members have equitable access to information and essential resources, and are empowered to actively participate in improving the quality of life in their neighborhoods.” A trio of students in Quick's class examined barriers to renter participation and information dissemination, and suggested creative ways for Brooklyn Park to overcome those obstacles. The students discovered that trust in the political system and language barriers were two of the most significant factors keeping many renters from participating in City activities. For Brooklyn Park, one of the most interesting findings from the project was the students’ discovery that many of the printed mailings that are sent to residents never make it into renters’ mailboxes in the city's many apartment complexes. These materials usually arrive as bulk mail and must be distributed by the complex’s management, who don't have direct access to mailboxes. Often the flyers, postcards, or newsletter simply end up in the trash.

Engaging Senior Residents

Another segment of the population Brooklyn Park staff have focused on reaching out to is senior residents and those over the age of 50. To jump-start the process, the city established an Aging Task Force that met over several years and provided the city council and staff with numerous recommendations for how to better meet the needs of aging residents in the community. Pat Busch, who works with seniors in her capacity as recreation and parks program supervisor, noted that the aging baby boomer generation is more educated and has more leadership experience than any previous generation. However, now that the Aging Task Force has been sunsetted, keeping task force participants and other seniors involved going forward is proving to be a challenge. Two master of urban and regional planning students, Jacquelyn Kramer and Joe Lampe, worked on developing a strategy to keep older residents engaged in civic life. Through their research, the students discovered that the City did not have a way to track or maintain contact with senior groups in Brooklyn Park or with seniors who had previously participated in city government in some capacity. To provide more avenues for engagement, Kramer and Lampe recommended that Brooklyn Park develop a database of senior groups and where they meet. Addressing the needs of an aging population is critical for cities as they plan for the future. “Most cities in the United States are facing changing demographics, including aging populations,” said Kramer. “This will have huge implications for city policy and budget setting, as aging baby boomers require different public services. I believe direct citizen participation will be crucial in updating city policies to meet these changing needs. Through this project, Lampe learned more about the nuances of public engagement. “It has become more clear to me how important it is and how in-depth you can get,” Lampe said about his experience.

Eidem Farmstead

The team of Kevin Priestly, Ben Pflughoeft, Sarah Arnold, and Robbie Latta focused on the historical roots of Brooklyn Park through a project focused on developing engagement strategies for the city's historic Eidem Homestead and Farm. Dating from the 1890–1910 time period, the homestead and farm were once the site of a thriving potato-growing operation, at a time when Brooklyn Park was the top potato-producer in the nation. Today, the property (including the original house, and several barns and outbuildings) has been restored to its historical period and hosts seasonal and family events, school field trips, and one of the city's community garden plots.  This summer, Brooklyn Park Recreation and Parks Department staff will launch a master planning process for Eidem Farm, a process in which they would like to engage residents to help develop a framework for the future of the farmstead. Given the growing diversity of the community, making Eidem Farm relevant for residents who are recent immigrants to the United States and unfamiliar with the city's agricultural history is a particular challenge. As the project lead for both the senior engagement and Eidem Farm projects, Busch views the two endeavors as similar. Both projects are ultimately about learning from different generations and cultural perspectives.  The opportunity to interact with another generation through the RCP partnership was very valuable for Busch. “I loved working with [the students]. It truly was rewarding for me,” Busch commented. “It was such great value to be able to connect with the young people who are starting out in their careers. Because understanding [this generation’s perspectives], to me, is just so beneficial, that even if we never got any more out of this, that would be enough.” Final reports for all four projects can be found on the RCP–Brooklyn Park projects page.

Transportation Connections in Brooklyn Park

Students talk with Brooklyn Park residents about transportation barriers in their community

Car to Go. Hour Car. Uber. Lyft. Nice Ride. These and other “shared-use mobility” options are making their way into more cities across the country, including RCP’s partner community, Brooklyn Park. As the City prepares for the arrival of light-rail transit (LRT) service and evaluates options for improving mobility for residents without access to an automobile, it is considering whether—and how—to integrate such services into its transportation planning.

As a suburban community, Brooklyn Park is nowhere near as dense as Minneapolis or St. Paul. This has created challenges for the City in thinking about how to include services like Hour Car or Uber as solutions to current transportation needs. They may not seem like an obvious choice for a suburb, but through robust community engagement efforts, City staff learned that residents were interested in more shared-use mobility alternatives. The City is now considering such options as a larger, targeted investment in transportation.

“Transportation equity requires looking at where you can make those targeted investments that really broaden opportunity,” said Emily Carr, the Development Project Coordinator for the City of Brooklyn Park. “In Brooklyn Park, we are looking at where those last-mile connections could be made to the planned light rail, so that folks can connect to the regional transportation system.”

The planned Bottineau LRT line, or Blue Line Extension, is slated to travel through Brooklyn Park along West Broadway Avenue, providing more transit options heading north and south. However, traveling east and west across the city remains a challenge for many residents without regular access to an automobile, particularly elderly and low-income residents.

To address this situation, RCP helped connect Brooklyn Park with graduate students in a transportation planning class at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to assess the feasibility of shared-use mobility options in the city. The students worked in three teams to consider existing models for shared use mobility, analyze publicly available data to identify areas of greatest need and opportunity for introducing mobility options, and engage residents directly to learn more about their transportation and mobility needs and challenges.

Andrew Guthrie, the course instructor and a Ph.D. candidate at the Humphrey School, noted that the team structure encouraged specialization within each group, but also facilitated interaction among the teams. “One benefit of it is that it encourages the groups to pay attention to what each other is doing,” Guthrie explained. “Each of those groups is doing something that can inform interpretation for the other two.”

The group focusing on existing models researched how other cities around the country are integrating shared-use mobility into their transportation planning to provide Brooklyn Park with a variety of options for offering alternative services.

“We started out with understanding the mechanisms behind carsharing and ridesharing, and then finding ways that communities were already using these technologies in different ways and innovative ways to solve their own mobility problems,” explained first year Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) student Matt Goodwin.

Given Brooklyn Park’s predominately suburban land-use pattern, the team focused primarily on car-sharing and ride-sharing options, including an in-depth look at a model in Buffalo, New York, that included community outreach to inform the design and implementation of the program. Although the program was ultimately unsuccessful because of insurance and liability issues, the case study nonetheless provided valuable insights, best practices, and lessons learned for the City to consider.

Because community engagement is a priority for Brooklyn Park, another team of five students spent the semester engaging in outreach to local residents to find out how shared-use mobility can best work for them.

On an unseasonably warm October weekend, the student team visited a farmer’s market event at the Dragon Star Market, a large independently owned supermarket in Brooklyn Park. At the event, students talked with residents about how they got to the event, what route they took, what daily transportation barriers they experience in their community, and assets in the community.

The questions students asked of residents stemmed from design conversations around station-area plans for the new light rail line. “Community members want the areas around the stations to really feel like a place that reflects the community that is here,” noted Carr.

After conducting a second engagement activity at the Starlite Transit Center, several key themes emerged from the team’s conversations with Brooklyn Park residents.

Currently, residents have difficulty navigating the pedestrian infrastructure in the city. Adding an LRT line through the city would provide an opportunity to re-examine the existing pedestrian environment and make improvements.

Additionally, the team heard that weekend bus service is an issue for many people. Workers who rely on public transit to get to their jobs but who do not work traditional hours are challenged as well, by limited or non-existent bus service.

Through this project, first-year MURP student Kurt Howard gained a sense for how difficult community outreach can be. “It demonstrated that there is a lot of subtlety and finesse required to do community engagement well,” Howard commented.

Despite encountering some issues in accessing publicly available data and engaging with potential transit riders, the student teams in Guthrie’s class developed an innovative set of recommendations and next steps for the City to consider. As the scheduled 2021 opening of the Bottineau LRT line approaches, their work will enrich and inform the conversation in Brooklyn Park about transit access, and help the City navigate the many challenges to improving resident mobility in a suburban context.

“There is an inherent difficulty in doing something that is kind of cutting edge,” Guthrie noted. “The idea of a small municipal government trying to proactively coordinate shared-use mobility around a proposed transit improvement, I don’t know that that has specifically ever been done before. . . . So basically the students are out there breaking new ground.”

Urban Planning Students Examine Equity and Development in Brooklyn Park

Students (from left to right) Mustafa Omar, Sarah Strain, Elizabeth Dressel, and Jared Staley visiting Brooklyn Park

Brooklyn Park, this year's Resilient Communities Project partner, is rapidly changing. The sixth largest city in the state, it is also one of the most diverse. More than 50% of Brooklyn Park residents identify as people of color, and one of every five residents was born outside of the United States.

Although the City is experiencing economic and population growth, significant income disparities persist among residents. Brooklyn Park is facing unique challenges as a suburban community, and many Minnesota cities will soon face similar challenges. Brooklyn Park’s demographics reflect projections for the state as a whole by 2040. As Brooklyn Park continues to grow, the City is dedicated to finding a way to grow equitably, and this commitment is reflected in several projects that are part of this year’s RCP-Brooklyn Park partnership.

In 2005, Brooklyn Park developed a Stable Neighborhood Action Plan (SNAP), focused on the Village Creek neighborhood, to identify and meet the needs of residents in the community.

“[The City of Brooklyn Park] really wanted to. . .look at what has changed in the area and then. . .use that information to be able to evaluate how we should move forward and what development strategies we should use,” said Emily Carr, development project coordinator with the Community Development Department and the staff lead for this project.

Development projects began in the early 2000s, but much of the development halted due to the 2008 recession. The City currently owns 20 acres of vacant land in the area. This fall, the City worked with RCP and a team of students at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to update the SNAP and identify equitable development strategies for the Village Creek area.

Neeraj Mehta, an instructor at the Humphrey School and director of community-based research at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), is guiding students in his Neighborhood Revitalization Strategies and Theories course through the process of creating equitable development proposals. The course is focused on equitable neighborhood revitalization, something Mehta believes is critical for future development.

“Our cities and regions are changing. Racial inequality and poverty continue to be predictable, persistent, and durable, and as metropolitan growth looks differently in our region, as cities and suburbs are changing and our demographics are changing, from an economic perspective, you can’t ignore that racial inequality is a drag in our region,” said Mehta.

A core component of the course is connecting students with community partners to work on real-world projects. Mehta was a student in the same course in 2003, and worked full-time with Project for Pride in Living as a graduate student. He believes his work on real-world projects enhanced his graduate school experience and is integral to understanding the topics discussed in class, a sentiment shared by students in the course.

“In class you can talk about ideas, you can talk about theories, you can see pictures of ‘successful projects,’” notes Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) candidate Sarah Strain, a student in Mehta’s class. “But having a real-world client project you can get on the ground, you can talk with people, you can talk with staff about what is going well, what went well, what would you change in the future,”

Students are given the option of working on several different projects for a variety of partners as part of the course. The suburban context of Brooklyn Park was a draw for Strain, and Mustafa Omar, also a MURP student, was interested in engaging with the large Liberian population. Omar has many years of experience working in international development, and has been involved with projects in Liberia since 2008.

Working with Strain and Omar, fellow MURP students Elizabeth Dressel, Elizabeth Caitlin Showalter, and Jared Staley will update Brooklyn Park’s SNAP and offer recommendations for equitable development strategies in the area. Throughout the semester, the students will work closely with Carr and Mehta to develop their final report.

Throughout their work, the students anticipate challenges.

“I come from a background of working with communities to solve problems,” said Staley. “Due to time constraints and other impediments, it will take more effort to be close to the project and gather the necessary input to make it successful. Working in an academic setting is safe, but this work can be incredibly impactful, doing it justice will be a challenge in and of itself.”

First-year MURP student Frank Alarcon will also be taking on this project through a GIS course, and will focus primarily on school mobility in the Village Creek neighborhood. A high level of school mobility has negative impacts on both students and communities, and measuring school mobility will help Brooklyn Park to better address the issue.

Alarcon was interested in working with the Brooklyn Park SNAP because of the city’s diverse demographics and the opportunity to work on something of value for a city.  Additionally, Alarcon thinks equitable development is important for correcting inherent biases in market forces.

“Equitable development looks to correct that bias and provides opportunities for people of color and people of less privilege,” said Alarcon.

Taking on the project from two perspectives with the help of RCP, Brooklyn Park is hoping to paint a more complete picture of current conditions in the SNAP study area, how these conditions have changed since 2005, and how the City can best move forward to develop an equitable and inclusive Brooklyn Park.

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APA MN Recognizes Carver County Partnership Project with Outstanding Student Project Award

Project team member Joseph Hartmann accepts the awards

The American Planning Association’s Minnesota Chapter (APA MN) has recognized five University of Minnesota students with the organization’s Outstanding Student Project Award for their Resilient Communities Project–sponsored capstone project, which they completed in partnership with the Carver County Parks Department last spring.

Humphrey School of Public Affairs students Chuck Demler, Kaela Dickens, Joseph Hartmann, Laurel Nightingale, and Kalli Perano were recognized at the 2016 Upper Midwest Regional/APA MN State Conference during an awards ceremony on September 28. The award recognized their collaboration with Carver County Parks and Trails Supervisor Sam Pertz to identify strategies to better engage communities of color in County park planning. Humphrey School professor Kathy Quick advised the students on the project, which was completed this past May as part of a year-long RCP–Carver County partnership.

The team has been recognized previously for their efforts, having received RCP’s Best Project Award and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Diversity Paper Award for Best Paper.

“The students really thought critically about equity,” said Quick. “Equity can mean a lot of things when you’re looking at diversity and inclusion in the parks system.”

The final report, titled “Increasing Engagement with Communities of Color: A Toolkit for Carver County Parks and Recreation,” identifies barriers to engaging people of color and new immigrants to Carver County in planning and development of County park facilities, and outlines specific recommendations County staff can use to foster better relationships with communities of color in the area.

The student group took an innovative approach to the project by framing their analysis and recommendations around a consideration of what equity means in different contexts. “It is important to understand what we really mean when we talk about equity and diversity,” said Nightingale.

Students recommended beginning the relationship-building process through “points of entry,” by working through organizations with which residents of color and new immigrants already have established relationships. To facilitate such outreach, the students provided a list of possible entry points, a rationale for why these organizations were selected, and key contacts within each organization.

Many of the students on the capstone team had previous experience in the area of community engagement, something Demler says contributed to their success. Even with their previous engagement experience, however, the students gained new perspectives from working on the project.

“I thought I already knew how to do engagement,” said Nightingale. “I learned so much more and have a richer understanding” of engagement as a result of the project.

Quick also believes that this project helped the students see that they have a real role to play in advancing equity through their professional work, as evidenced by a recent invitation to present their report to representatives from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Reimbursement for Travel

RCP will reimburse reasonable project-related expenses incurred by faculty or students, including travel to and from our community partner, printing, and supplies. Lodging, meals, computer hardware or software, and parking at the University of Minnesota are NOT eligible expenses. To request reimbursement, you must submit a completed and signed U of MN Reimbursement Form (download the appropriate form below), as well as itemized receipts for any eligible expenses. Instructions

U of MN Reimbursement Forms:

Minnesota Alumni Magazine Features RCP

Community engagement is central to the University of Minnesota's teaching, research, and outreach missions. Minnesota Alumni magazine recently featured a conversation with Vice President for Public Engagement Andrew Furco that highlighted the Resilient Communities Project as an exemplary community engagement initiative at the Twin Cities campus.  As a large, public land grant university located in an urban center, Furco is adamant that community-engaged work be a core of the University. In his conversation with Minnesota Alumni, Furco emphasized the difference between an engaged university--which is focused on building lasting partnerships and relationships in collaboration with communities--versus engagement programs housed within a university that work with communities largely to complete research projects.  In 2015, the University of Minnesota became one of the first urban public research universities to receive the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Community Engagement Classification for its dedication to engagement. In its application for this designation, the University identified more than 100 community engagement initiatives. Minnesota Alumni spotlighted six of these efforts :

To learn more about the projects featured in this article and the continued community engagement work of the University, check out the full article in Minnesota Alumni (RCP is featured on the last page of the article).

Introducing our 2016-2017 Partner: The City of Brooklyn Park

Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Park

As summer winds to an end, RCP is busy preparing for an exciting year with our 2016–2017 community partner, the City of Brooklyn Park!

Situated on the west bank of the Mississippi River in the northwest corner of Hennepin County, Brooklyn Park is the sixth-largest city in Minnesota and is one of the most diverse. More than half of the city’s residents identify as people of color, a significant increase from roughly 30 percent in 2000. This demographic shift reflects population trends predicted for the state as a whole by 2040, putting Brooklyn Park at the forefront of many planning and community development initiatives to ensure that local government serves the needs of a rapidly diversifying state.

Brooklyn Park, in partnership with local residents, has identified six priority areas as part of the city’s 2016–2017 strategic plan: financial stability, focused development and redevelopment, community image, adapting to changing demographics, public safety, and strong neighborhoods. All 25 projects chosen for this year’s RCP–Brooklyn Park partnership address one or more of these focus areas, and all of them ultimately seek to fulfill the City’s mission of being “a thriving community, inspiring pride, with opportunities to succeed for all.” Director of Community Development Kim Berggren, Project Facilitator Angelica Klebsch, and City Manager Jay Stroebel will coordinate the City’s partnership with RCP. In addition, each project will have a staff lead from the City of Brooklyn Park or partner organizations like the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth to work directly with students who are engaged through courses at the University of Minnesota.

To better adapt to changing demographics within the community and improve external perceptions of the city, Brooklyn Park has placed an emphasis on developing new and evaluating existing community engagement and branding strategies. One RCP project designed to assess the impact of the City’s 2010 Community Engagement Initiative and develop strategies for improved engagement will help Brooklyn Park broaden its outreach and engagement efforts, creating more inclusive processes that better represent the needs of residents. Brooklyn Park also seeks to foster a strong sense of community identity through projects focused on a new branding campaign and a public art plan for the City.

In addition to pursuing a public art policy, Brooklyn Park has identified several projects related to expanding access to the arts. In one project, U of MN students will conduct a needs assessment for and determine barriers to youth involvement in music and arts programming. In another project, community partner North Hennepin Community College (NHCC) is seeking student assistance identifying strategies for designing a Performing Arts Center that is financially and environmentally sustainable, as well as developing equitable arts programming that represents the cultural diversity of the community.

NHCC is also a partner on a project to assess student support services--such as employment services, childcare, or housing--that can be provided through a private development on campus. This project is one of several to focus on youth and senior services. Others include exploring needs and barriers around shared-use mobility strategies, such as bike-share or car-share programs, and encouraging more senior involvement in community organizations.

Neighborhood stability is a cornerstone of building resilient communities. In 2005, Brooklyn Park developed a Stable Neighborhood Action Plan (SNAP) to address the infrastructure and housing needs of residents. Through the RCP partnership, Brooklyn Park hopes to evaluate and update this plan to address the evolving needs of residents. City staff and U of MN students will also partner to evaluate the City's foreclosure recovery efforts, initiated after the foreclosure crisis that began in the late 2000s, and to develop methods to better engage renters in community decision making.  Ensuring access to fresh foods for residents is another area where Brooklyn Park is looking to students for help strengthening neighborhood stability.

Several Brooklyn Park projects focus on public safety and workforce development. Public safety projects include identifying barriers to and strategies for developing a more diverse police force, as well as creating a safer pedestrian environment in the Village Creek neighborhood. To build a stronger workforce, Brooklyn Park is looking to U of MN students to provide recommendations for effective workforce development strategies targeted at areas of high unemployment, as well as document the extent of youth unemployment and underemployment in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center.

Recognizing that parks and natural areas are important to livability and quality of life for residents, Brooklyn Park has identified eight projects that focus on either environmental stewardship or parks and recreation. To best preserve and maintain these resources, the City hopes to develop a Natural Resources Management Plan and best practices around natural resource management. Additional stewardship projects will examine opportunities to reduce residential storm sewers, determine current water use patterns and conservation approaches, and evaluate food-waste reduction strategies for restaurants. Brooklyn Park is home to 2,000 acres of parkland, 60 parks, and 47 miles of trails. This extensive network will be the subject of projects focusing on nature-based recreation, a community kitchen project to provide a shared-use commercial kitchen space, planning for the Historic Eidem Farm, and a needs assessment aimed at making athletic fields more sustainable and accessible.

U of MN students and Brooklyn Park staff will be collaborating on many unique and innovative projects during the coming academic year--projects that will continue Brooklyn Park’s tradition of leadership in building strong, resilient Minnesota communities. Stay tuned for more!

Hannah Gary is a dual-degree graduate student in the University of Minnesota's Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Master of Public Health program in the School of Public Health.

Brooklyn Park Projects

For the 2016–2017 academic year, RCP partnered with the City of Brooklyn Park on 24 projects that were matched with 47 courses spanning 21 academic departments at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Duluth campuses, engaging more than 250 students in meaningful real-world projects, and providing Brooklyn Park with information, ideas, and new perspectives on local sustainability and resilience issues. The projects were designed to further the city’s strategic planning priorities, which include financial sustainability, focused redevelopment and development, community image, adapting to changing demographics, public safety and strong neighborhoods. Almost half of the projects were focused on the City's goal of adapting to changing demographics. 

Community Identity and Engagement 

Challenging Conceptions of Brooklyn Park: Branding & Public Art: Create a branding strategy and public art policy to promote and foster a positive community image. Project Lead: Angelica Klebsch, Project Facilitator, City of Brooklyn Park  

IDES 2604: Interior Design Studio IV (Instructors: Abi Asojo and Justine Pliska) Final Posters

DES 3331: Street Life Urban Design Seminar (Instructor: Carrie Christensen) Final Report and Presentation

PA 5311: Program Evaluation (Instructor: Jodi Sanfort) Final Report + Poster + Presentation

Community Engagement Plan for Comprehensive Plan Update: Develop a community engagement plan to broaden community outreach and improve the engagement process around Brooklyn Park’s 2018 comprehensive plan update. Project Lead: Cindy Sherman, Planning Director, City of Brooklyn Park  

PA 5145: Civic Participation in Public Affairs (Instructor: Kathy Quick) Final Report

Evaluation of the City’s Community Engagement Initiative: Assess the impact of Brooklyn Park’s 2010 Community Engagement Initiative. Project Lead: Josie Shardlow, Community Engagement Coordinator, City of Brooklyn Park  

PUBH 7094: Culminating Experience: Community Health Promotion (Advisor: Keith Horvath) Final Report and Poster

Creation of a Community-Oriented PAFR: Develop a popular annual finance report (PAFR), with community input, to improve transparency within city government and broaden understanding of government finances. Project Leads: Korrie Johnson and Pa Thao, Accountants, City of Brooklyn Park

PA 8081: Public Affairs Capstone (Instructor: Greg Lindsey) Final Report and Design Template

Neighborhood Stability 

Stable Neighborhood Action Plan Update: Update the City's Stable Neighborhood Action Plan (SNAP) to evaluate neighborhood improvements since creating the original SNAP document in 2005. Project Lead: Emily Carr, Development Project Coordinator, City of Brooklyn Park

PA 8203: Neighborhood Revitalization Strategies and Theories (Instructor: Neeraj Mehta) Final Report and Presentation

PA 5271: GIS Applications in Planning and Policy Analysis (Instructor: Geoff Maas) Final Presentation

DES 3331: Street Life Urban Design Seminar (Instructor: Carrie Christensen) Final Report and Presentation

Foreclosure Recovery Impact in Brooklyn Park Neighborhoods: Assess the impacts of Brooklyn Park’s Foreclosure Recovery Program. Project Lead: Erika Byrd, Economic Development Specialist, City of Brooklyn Park

GEOG 5564: Urban GIS and Analysis (Instructor: Ying Song) Group 1 Final Report + Poster + Presentation | Group 2 Poster and Presentation

PA 5261: Housing Policy (Instructors: Ed Goetz and Tony Damiano) Final Report + Poster + Presentation 

Creating Thriving Neighborhoods Through Greater Renter Engagement: Develop strategies to improve outreach to renters and create more equitable access to community information and resources. Project Lead: Lidiya Girma, Neighborhood Relations Specialist, City of Brooklyn Park

PA 5145: Civic Participation in Public Affairs (Instructor: Kathy Quick) Final Report and Engagement Diagram

Music and the Arts

North Hennepin Community College Performing Arts Center: Create design and programming options for a proposed Performing Fine Arts and Education Center and develop strategies for joint financing of the center. Project Lead: Kim Berggren, Director of Community Development, City of Brooklyn Park

SW 8551: Advanced Community Practice: Assessment, Organizing, and Advocacy (Instructor: Jennifer Blevins) Final Report and Presentation 

Public Safety

Pedestrian Safety in the Village Creek Neighborhood: Identify opportunities for making the Village Creek neighborhood more walkable, increasing access to transit and other neighborhood amenities, and improving public spaces in the the area. Project Lead: Todd Larson, Senior Planner, City of Brooklyn Park

DES 3331: Street Life Urban Design Seminar (Instructor: Carrie Christensen) Final Report and Presentation

Diversifying the Brooklyn Park Police Department: Investigate current demographic trends in law enforcement candidate pools and develop strategies to attract more applicants of color in an effort to make the Brooklyn Park police force more representative of the community. Project Lead: Deputy Chief Mark Bruley, Investigations Commander, City of Brooklyn Park

PA 8081: Public Affairs Capstone (Instructor: Greg Lindsey) Final Report and Presentation

PSY 5701: Employee Selection and Staffing (Instructor: Deniz Ones) Final Report

Senior and Youth Services Projects

Senior/50+ Civic Engagement: An Age-Friendly Initiative: Identify barriers to seniors volunteering with organizations, and develop a program to train and engage both new and return senior volunteers. Project Lead: Pat Busch, Program Supervisor, City of Brooklyn Park

PA 5145: Civic Participation in Public Affairs (Instructor: Kathy Quick) Final Report

SW 8551: Advanced Community Practice: Assessment, Organizing, and Advocacy (Instructor: Jennifer Blevins) Final Report and Presentation

Shared-Use Mobility Possibilities in Brooklyn Park: Develop strategies to improve access to shared forms of transportation, such as bike- and car-sharing programs, among low-income residents. Project Lead: Emily Carr, Development Project Coordinator, City of Brooklyn Park

PA 5232/CEGE 5212: Transportation Policy, Planning, and Deployment (Instructor: Andrew Guthrie)

Existing Models: Final Report and Presentation

Public Data: Final Report and Presentation

Community Engagement: Final Report and Presentation

North Hennepin Community College (NHCC) Site Concepts: Supportive Off-Campus Services: Provide recommendations for potential developments on the NHCC campus that will serve student needs, including private off-campus housing and student support services. Project Lead: Kim Berggren, Director of Community Development, City of Brooklyn Park

SW 8551: Advanced Community Practice: Assessment, Organizing, and Advocacy (Instructor: Jennifer Blevins) Final Report and Presentation

PA 8081: Public Affairs Capstone (Instructor: Greg Lindsey) Final Report and Presentation 

PA 5261: Housing Policy (Instructors: Ed Goetz and Tony Damiano) Final Report and Presentation 

Workforce Development and Employment Projects

Measuring Youth Employment in the Brooklyns: Define and measure youth unemployment in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center to inform programs that will increase youth access to employment opportunities. Project Lead: Ivan Lui, Data & Quality Coordinator, Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth

PA 5251: Strategic Planning and Management (Instructor: John Bryson) Final Report and Presentation

Workforce Development Strategies: Identify gaps in current workforce delivery models, create targeted workforce development strategies in areas with high unemployment, and identify suburban transit-oriented workforce development strategies. Project Lead: Erik Hansen, Economic Development & Housing Director, City of Brooklyn Park

PA 5512: Economic and Workforce Development (Instructor: Neal Young)  Group 1 Report | Group 2 Report | Group 3 Report

OLPD 5296: Internship in Human Resource Development (Instructor: Rosemarie Park) Final Report

Environmental Stewardship Projects

Long-Term Sustainability of Natural Resources: Develop a natural resource management plan to ensure long-term care of natural resources in Brooklyn Park. Project Lead: Mike Kimble, Project Manager, City of Brooklyn Park

ESPM 5245: Sustainable Land Use Planning and Policy (Instructor: Mae Davenport) Final Report and Presentation

EnEd 5325: Sustainability Issues Investigation (Instructor: Ken Gilbertson) Final Report

Potable Water: Supply, Use, and Conservation: Assess current water usage patterns, identify best practices for education around water conservation, and develop recommendations for development practices that support water conservation. Project Lead: Jon Watson, Public Utilities Superintendent, City of Brooklyn Park

PA 5721: Energy and Environmental Policy (Instructor: Stephen Rose and Vivek Bhandari) Final Report and Presentation

Restaurants & Food Waste: Reuse & Disposal: Evaluate the financial impacts of creating a city-wide food waste recycling program and identify best practices for food waste recycling and reduction. Project Lead: Dan Opsahl, Environmental Health Specialist, City of Brooklyn Park

PA 5213: Introduction to Site Planning (Instructor: Fernando Burga) Final Report

PA 5712: Science to Action: All Paths (Instructor: Steve Kelley) Final Report and Presentations

Parks and Recreation Projects 

Community Change & Sustainability of Athletic Fields: Conduct a needs assessment for athletic field use and develop recommendations for athletic field surface materials and scheduling. Project Lead: Mike Kimble, Project Manager, City of Brooklyn Park

REC 3281: Research and Evaluation in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies (Instructor: Tony Brown)  Group 1 Flyer and Presentation | Group 2 Report and Presentation

HORT 4061: Turfgrass Management (Instructor: Eric Watkins)  Compiled Final Report and Presentations

PUBH 7194: Culminating Experience: Environmental Health (Advisor: Betsy Wattenberg) Final Report and Presentation

SMGT 3881W: Senior Seminar in Sport Management (Instructor: Lisa Kihl) Group 1 Final Report + Poster + Presentation | Group 2 Report and Presentation 

Nature-Based Recreation: A Recipe for Community Health: Create a design and site recommendation for a new nature play area at Eidem Farm, analyze risks associated with nature play areas, and develop strategies for integrating nature play into existing parks programming. Project Lead: Brad Tullberg, Parks & Facilities Manager, City of Brooklyn Park

EnEd 4315: Operations and Management (Instructor: Ken Gilbertson)  Final Report and Presentation

REC 3281: Research and Evaluation in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies (Instructor: Tony Brown)  Central Team Report and Presentation | East Central Team Report and Presentation | North Team Report and Presentation | Southeast Team Presentation | Southwest Team Report

HPER 3100: Risk Management (Instructor: Danny Frank)  Final Report and Presentation

Master Planning for Historic Eidem Farm and Homestead: Identify strategies for engaging the public in master planning for the farm, investigate opportunities for preserving the heritage and history of the farm, and compile an oral history of the farm. Project Lead: Pat Busch, Program Supervisor, City of Brooklyn Park

PA 5145: Civic Participation in Public Affairs (Instructor: Kathy Quick)  Final Report and Process Diagram

OLPD 5204: Designing the Adult Education Program (Instructor: Catherine Twohig) Final Report + Poster + Presentation

Food Access

Evaluation of a Potential Community Kitchen Project: Determine community goals for a shared commercial kitchen space, assess obstacles to new community kitchens, and evaluate the economic viability of a stand-alone community kitchen space. Project Lead: Jason Newby, Code Enforcement & Public Health Manager, City of Brooklyn Park

PA 5213: Introduction to Site Planning (Instructor: Fernando Burga) Final Report

FDSY 4101: Holistic Approaches to Improving Food Systems Sustainability Final Poster

Assessing Access to Healthful Food: Determine barriers to accessing fresh foods and identify ways to increase consumption of healthy foods. Project Lead: John Nerge, GIS Coordinator, City of Brooklyn Park

PA 5271: GIS Applications in Planning and Policy Analysis (Instructor: Geoff Maas)  Final Report

PA 5213: Introduction to Site Planning (Instructor: Fernando Burga) Final Report 

PUBH 7696: Field Experience: Maternal and Child Health (Advisor: Jamie Stang) Final Report + Presentation + Poster

FDSY 4101: Holistic Approaches to Improving Food Systems Sustainability (Instructor: Julie Grossman) Final Report and Poster

Save the date for the RCP-Brooklyn Park kickoff

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user Rbn Jmnz

Curious about the exciting projects we have lined up this year? RCP invites you to join us for our Brooklyn Park partnership kickoff on Monday, September 19, 2016, from 5–7 pm. The kickoff will be an informal open house in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 5200 85th Avenue N., Brooklyn Park, MN 55443. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about this year’s projects, talk with project leads, meet faculty and students working on projects, and ask questions. To keep up-to-date on the partnership, you can follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or sign up for our quarterly e-newsletter.

2016–2017 Partner: Brooklyn Park

Brooklyn Park Logo

Brooklyn Park was RCP’s community partner for the 2016–2017 academic year. A northwestern suburb of the Twin Cities, Brooklyn Park’s mission is to be “a thriving community inspiring pride where opportunities exist for all.” Brooklyn Park is located in Hennepin County, and is the sixth-largest city in the state. In 1990, just 10% of Brooklyn Park’s residents identified as people of color. Today, Brooklyn Park is already as diverse as the rest of Minnesota will be by 2040. More than half of the city’s 79,000 residents are people of color, and 20% of residents are recent immigrants to the United States. Strikingly, 10% of residents are immigrants from Liberia, giving Brooklyn Park (when combined with Brooklyn Center) the largest population of Liberians outside of Liberia. 48 organizations, groups of community members, and governmental bodies and departments will collaborate on RCP projects this year, with partners ranging from North Hennepin Community College and the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth to local food entrepreneurs and the African Development Center. 

RCP partnered with Brooklyn Park on 24 projects matched with 47 U of MN courses spanning 21 academic departments, engaging more than 250 students across the University. You can view a summary of the partnership and projects, or learn more about individual projects by visiting the Brooklyn Park Projects page.

RCP–Brooklyn Park Partnership in the News:

Opportunity is knocking! Here’s your chance to be RCP’s next community partner.

Image from Flickr user njtrout_2000 used under Creative Commons License.

The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) at the University of Minnesota (U of MN) is now accepting letters of intent from cities and counties that wish to apply to be RCP’s community partner for the 2017–2018 academic year (July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018). The selection process is competitive, and the partner community must support the effort through dedicated staff time and a local financial contribution. You can find more details about the RCP application process here. Why apply to be RCP’s community partner? Nobody knows the answer to that question better than our past community partners. Here’s what they’d like you to know about the value of their experience with RCP:

“While it’s hard to estimate what it would have cost the County and its partners to hire consultants to work on all these projects, we do know this has been a much more cost-effective approach that has yielded excellent results. We see these projects as something that will benefit local communities for years to come.” -James Ische, Chair, Carver County Board of Commissioners

“This entire RCP process. . .is such a well-oiled machine.  It’s a true testament to [RCP’s] vision for connecting education with the real world. Introducing fresh ideas into our innovation efforts has ignited a spark for me and the Innovation Leadership Team.  We are grateful to have been a part of this journey. . .  It’s been a ride I’ll never forget! -Lorraine Brady, IT Project Manager, Carver County

 “What we received ultimately was very high quality, and it was great information for us as a City Council to look at, plan, and figure out how to utilize the information going forward in a positive way for the citizens in our community.” -Rosemount Mayor William Droste

I think it really elevates the community’s opinion of the city because we have partnered with someone with a good reputation to do the work of the city. I think people can see that as both an efficient way to do business but also a smart way to do the city’s business. I wouldn’t underestimate the goodwill and the good PR that comes from participating in the RCP program.” -Julie WIschnack, Community Development Director, City of Minnetonka

“I think that, not only did we get fantastic work, but I think it’s really just reinvigorated city staff just in our profession, to be around students [and] faculty who have different ways of thinking and different ways of approaching an idea. So it has been an absolutely wonderful experience” -Susan Thomas, Principal Planner, City of Minnetonka

Is your city or county ready to be inspired and reinvigorated by a partnership with RCP? Let us know by submitting a letter of intent by September 15th. If you have questions about RCP, the letter of intent, or the application process, please contact Mike Greco, RCP Director, mgreco@umn.edu or 612-625-7501. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Spring semester RCP reports now available!

Image from Opensource.com used under Creative Commons License

RCP students produced exciting new ideas and knowledge on a wide variety of topics this year, and their reports are now available to the public! Check out the reports to learn more about everything from stormwater reuse and renewable energy to barriers to affordable housing development and Latino community engagement.  We hope you'll be able to apply the students' work to the challenges and opportunities in your own community.

RCP Students Take on Housing Policy Challenges

Housing under construction in Watertown, MN. Photo © Steve Schneider 2015.

Students tackled four different housing-related projects this spring through the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Housing Policy course, taught by nationally recognized housing expert Professor Ed Goetz. While the students learned about the fraught history of U.S. housing policy during class time, they worked with RCP on Carver County’s current challenges around housing outside of class. Gabrielle Clowdus’ RCP project on promoting the expansion of the Carver County Community Land Trust (CLT) aligns with her PhD work in the College of Design’s Housing Studies program. The Carver County CLT is administered by the Carver County Community Development Agency to provide permanently affordable homeownership. The CLT acquires and holds land forever for the benefit of the community.  “My dissertation is exploring the potential of a one-for-one model where the sale of one luxury condo in a participating development brokers the gift of one modest home for a family living in the poorest conditions of our global society,” said Clowdus. “So the CLT [project] was an obvious choice. . . Setting aside land for permanently affordable housing is a compelling tool for providing for our low-income population.”

Gabrielle Clowdus is a PhD student in the College of Design working on a project to expand the Carver County Community Land Trust. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Clowdus. Gabrielle Clowdus is a PhD student in the College of Design working on a project to expand the Carver County Community Land Trust. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Clowdus.

Clowdus’ project is deeply connected to her humanitarian worldview. “The underlying intention behind each of these models is to provide for the poor indefinitely. None of the models shame the wealthy or call for a horizontal redistribution of wealth, only that the wealthy consider the poor and provide the substantially small amount of resources it takes to assure every individual a decent and humane standard of living,” said Clowdus. “I believe all too often we forget that wealth, affluence, and privilege are not necessarily earned but often by chance of where we were born and from what family we descended. In this light, it is the responsibility, dare I say purpose, of the wealthy to provide for the poor.” The project has both allowed Clowdus to apply what she’s learning in class, and taught her much about the value of stable housing for individuals and families. “[T]he greatest lessons I have keyed into are the more intangible ones. The ones that tell of real people and real stories of the destitution life can bring, and the tremendous hope a home can [provide]. Stories of single mothers finally feeling safe, or children being the first in their family to graduate high school and go on to college—these are the stories of CLT recipients. And I hope many more stories such as these will be created from the commitment of the over-resourced to provide for the under-resourced.”

The City of Watertown is working to highlight amenities like its downtown as it seeks to attract new residents. Photo © Steve Schneider 2015. The City of Watertown is working to highlight amenities like its downtown as it seeks to attract new residents. Photo © Steve Schneider 2015.

In addition to the Carver County CLT project, students worked on RCP projects around barriers to the development of affordable rental housing and owner-occupied homes, the potential need for home improvement areas in Carver County, and efforts to attract new residents to Watertown, MN. Two groups of students provided recommendations to the Carver County Community Development Agency around barriers and strategies for affordable housing. Ravi Reddi and Trevor Mercil investigated approaches to addressing public opposition to affordable housing, while Karina Martin, Karl Schuettler, and Jacquelyn Kramer developed a rating system to help policymakers understand the utility of different tools and policies for affordable housing. In order to assess whether homeowners associations (HOAs) in Carver County are likely to benefit from the financial assistance that a Home Improvement Area (HIA) would provide, Elizabeth Catlin Showalter assessed the number and location of townhouse and condo HOAs and the age of buildings for the Cities of Mayer, Norwood Young America, Chanhassen, Chaska, Victoria, Watertown, Waconia, Cologne and Carver. HIAs allow cities to assist homeowner associations with paying for the cost of improvements to common areas by issuing a loan that is repaid in a manner similar to property taxes or special assessments. Rylee Bonk and Alex Sanchez developed a residential marketing campaign for the city of Watertown, which aims to highlight its many amenities, including schools, natural resources, and its downtown, and to differentiate Watertown from surrounding communities. Bonk and Sanchez were already familiar with RCP from work in other courses, and decided to pursue another RCP project.  “We really enjoy the fact that RCP works so closely with U of M students for fresh ideas and takes the time to listen to what the students have to say,” said Bonk. “It is so gratifying to know that our research may potentially be used to make real change within the community. It's also been really fun to actually be able to visit the communities that our RCP projects are based upon.” The project has helped Bonk and Sanchez hone their time-management skills and has taught them some real world lessons. “We have learned that collaboration is key when it comes to community development,” said Bonk. “There are so many different parties involved and even the smallest decisions have a massive impact on the greater community.” Maria Wardoku is a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Building community resiliency through adult education and workforce preparedness

Students in OLPD 5204 interviewed Carver County staff about employment opportunities for offenders upon re-entry into the community. Photo Credit: Bridget Roby.

BY BRIDGET ROBY

As growth in Minnesota’s working-age population is forecast to stall in the next 15 years, Carver County took a critical look at how it can promote a healthy, resilient local economy by better preparing adults for the workforce. Through its partnership with the Resilient Communities Project, the county was matched with graduate students in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD) to assess both adult-learner and employer needs in Carver County, including the needs of offenders recently released from jail.

As her field experience for the Adult Education Certificate, student Christine Schoettler partnered with the Eastern Carver County School District’s Community Education program to help program staff assess the demand for, and their capacity to meet, adult learning needs across the community. By compiling and analyzing existing community data, conducting surveys of local manufacturers and students in adult education programs, and holding interviews with employers and employment specialists, Schoettler identified a significant gap between the relative abundance of entry-level jobs in Carver County’s manufacturing sector and the dearth of skilled employees to fill them.

“There are plenty of jobs available,” Schoettler wrote, noting that on a single day in March, a simple search of the INDEED job search engine revealed 18 entry-level types of jobs available in Chaska and Chanhassen alone. “This was more than double that in any other suburb of the Twin Cities.”

At the same time, however, she noted that one staffing agency she interviewed recruits entry-level employees from as far as the east side of St. Paul, and that many local manufacturers claim that their employees often don’t have the skills they need to operate machinery.

To better prepare and supply workers for local employers, Schoettler offered four main recommendations, including attracting more entry-level workers to the county and encouraging vocational training. Schoettler also highlighted the need to assist the local Latino population—which has been grown significantly over the past decade—by supporting them to finish high school.

“What was striking to me is the Latino achievement gap,” Schoettler said, noting that only about 55 percent of Hispanic students in the county graduate from high school, compared to about 90 percent in the total county population. “It became obvious that this is a complex issue with different elements to consider.”

Image Credit: Eastern Carver County Schools Report, 2015
Image Credit: Eastern Carver County Schools Report, 2015

Jackie Johnston, Director of Community Education for Eastern Carver County School District, said Schoettler’s work reinforced what the school district knew about the need for affordable housing and public transportation in the county to attract and support entry-level workers.

“Continuing to work with cities to look at housing and transportation options will be important,” Johnston said. “As well, we need to increase our Adult Basic Education connection to the business communities to help them provide the necessary language and skill training at the job site. . .and examine the way we offer the skills necessary for our Latino students to enter the workplace.”

Meanwhile, an interdisciplinary team of students in Professor Catherine Twohig’s OLPD course Designing the Adult Education Program partnered with Carver County Health and Human Services to explore ways of promoting post-release employment for local offenders.

“The goal of our project is to create a comprehensive report addressing Carver County's expressed interest in developing strategies and programs to facilitate and support offender re-entry into the community through employment,” said Elma Georgopoulos, a graduate student in Twohig’s course.

The team of six students conducted an extensive literature review of local, national, and international research and best practices related to offender employment programs and services, and conducted interviews with staff of successful offender employment programs in the Twin Cities metro area. The team also held interviews with several Carver County employers who expressed interest in hiring offenders.

“Wraparound services for offenders appear to be a crucial factor for successful offender re-entry, unanimously,” Georgopoulos said of her team’s findings. “This can include a case manager who coordinates housing, transportation, mental health resources, criminal justice appointments, education, training, and employment for offenders.”

The team also recommended piloting a transitional work program in Carver County modeled on a similar program in Hennepin County that connects offenders to employment prior to release. According to the students’ research and interviews, such a program has the potential to provide offenders with relevant workplace skills, expand their financial and employment opportunities, and establish positive work-related habits prior to release.

Altogether, the students’ research helped Carver County assess current needs for workforce development—especially among vulnerable populations—and consider programs and policies that would benefit both local residents and employers. After all, strong workforce participation is a key part of a healthy, resilient economy.

Bridget Roby is a Master of Public Health student at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health focusing on maternal and child health.

U students present findings of Carver County project

Originally published by the Star Tribune on May 18, 2016

BY BEATRICE DUPUY

After spending the school year working with Carver County communities, a group of University of Minnesota students wrapped up its projects last week. More than 300 students participated in the Resilient Communities Project, and their 32 projects tackled subjects from augmented reality to mobile home communities.

“It was a very successful partnership,” said Mike Greco, director of the U’s Resilient Communities Project. “The variety of the projects made it a very interesting year for us.”

Through their courses, students met with county government officials and agencies in the county throughout the year to research and prepare their innovative solutions for problems the county is facing.

Sam Rosner, 24, a graduate student in public health, showcased her final project to U officials and her peers at a poster presentation at the U’s McNamara Alumni Center last week. Rosner spent the year meeting with residents in two mobile home communities in Chaska, holding focus groups to examine residents’ barriers to a healthy lifestyle. In one mobile home community, some of the residents said they did not have time to prepare healthy meals or could not afford to spend money on healthier foods.

“They wanted more activities to do together,” she said. “A lot of residents were really interested in community gardens.” Rosner said her project was part of a county needs assessment to recommend healthy lifestyle programming for the residents. At the student showcase, Rosner won the outstanding student project award.

The U’s partnership with the county was its first. In the past, the U has partnered only with cities.

Historic virtual reality

A project that caught the attention of attendees at the student showcase was a virtual reality app designed to give a historic tour of the Andrew Peterson farmstead in Waconia. The app allows visitors to view the property as it was in the 1800s with its historic apple trees. App users can even see the farm up close from anywhere.

“Because we don’t have a tour guide on [the property] all the time, we have to rely on self-guided tours,” said Wendy Petersen Biorn, Carver County Historical Society executive director.

Biorn said the farm was fully documented in pictures in 1885, which allowed the U students to overlay the old pictures on what the property now looks like using the virtual program.

Terrence Caploe, 31, a U senior, was one of the students who worked with the Carver County Historical Society on the project. Caploe said he will continue working on the project along with other U students throughout the summer.

“The framework is there for a really fantastic application for this site,” he said.

While most students have completed their projects, county officials hope they come back soon to work for the county.

“We hope some students will make Carver County home after graduation,” said James Ische, chairman of the Carver County Board. “I am confident we are going to see the benefits of [the Resilient Communities Project] for years to come.”

RCP honors outstanding participants at end-of-year celebration

Faculty, students, and community partners attended RCP's end-of-year celebration on May 13. (c) Steve Schneider 2016

BY MARIA WARDOKU

At RCP’s End-of-Year Celebration on May 13, held at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus, students presented 22 posters representing roughly half of the projects that were part of this year’s partnership with Carver County. The posters showcased the broad range of high-quality work created through the partnership, which included 30 projects that were matched with 50 U of MN courses spanning 22 academic departments. Over the course of the academic year, more than 350 students took part in an RCP project.

Although many students, faculty, and community partners participated in this year’s partnership, several outstanding individuals who went above and beyond the call to make the collaboration a success were recognized at the event:

RCP Director Mike Greco presents Prof. Catherine Twohig with the Outstanding Faculty Lead award. Photo (c) Steve Schneider 2016.
RCP Director Mike Greco presents Prof. Catherine Twohig with the Outstanding Faculty Lead award. Photo (c) Steve Schneider 2016.

Outstanding Faculty Lead: Catherine Twohig, Lecturer, Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development

RCP Director Mike Greco presented the award, noting that “The success of RCP depends on the dedication and commitment of faculty like Catherine Twohig… Catherine has worked with RCP every year of the program’s existence, accepting new challenges each time. This year was no exception. For her course on adult education, she agreed to make available to her students three different RCP projects. She made multiple trips to Carver County to meet with project leads months before her spring-semester class began to ensure that the projects—several of which were not natural fits for the course curriculum—would meet the needs of the community and her course. Although the task of managing projects typically falls to the project lead, Catherine intervened at several points during the semester to troubleshoot projects or alert RCP staff to issues that may have derailed the projects. More importantly, she used these opportunities as teachable moments to help her students learn that the theory they were studying in class didn’t always match up with the messiness of practice. And when a fourth project proved to not be a good fit for her class, Catherine reached out to a colleague in her department and encouraged her to include the project in a course she was teaching.

Outstanding Project Lead: Jackie Johnston, Eastern Carver County School District

Carver County Planner and RCP coordinator Nate Kabat presented this award, noting that “Jackie Johnston has served as project lead for projects related to serving Latino communities, assessing adult learner needs, and evaluating the District’s Intercultural Specialist Program…Jackie willingly made trips to the U of M, day and night, to work with students and infect them with her passions for community education, intercultural connections, and overall positive vibes. She has connected her staff to other projects, and out of this has made the school district’s cultural expertise more accessible to County programs in Parks and Public Health in particular. A key goal of RCP is building community connections—and Jackie embodies that idea.”

Outstanding Student Team Award: “Community Engagement in Parks and Recreation,” Joe Hartmann, Laurel Nightingale, Kaela Dickens, Kalli Perano, and Chuck Demler

RCP Program Assistant Maria Wardoku presents the Outstanding Student Team Project award to Joe Hartmann, accepting on behalf of his team. Photo (c) Steve Schneider 2016.
RCP Program Assistant Maria Wardoku presents the Outstanding Student Team Project award to Joe Hartmann, accepting on behalf of his team. Photo (c) Steve Schneider 2016.

RCP Program Assistant Maria Wardoku presented the award. She said that the team “demonstrated a high level of professionalism, excellent communication skills, flexibility, and dedication to producing a useful product for their client. The student team worked together on a capstone project focused on community engagement in parks and recreation. They had regular 8 am conference calls with their community partner, Carver County Parks and Recreation…They sent weekly updates and draft reports in advance of conference calls, and demonstrated flexibility in making sure the project was tailored to the local context and needs of their client. Their faculty advisor, Kathy Quick, told us she was impressed that ‘the students were able to take this project much further than originally imagined, and turn it into something more sustainable and transformational.’ She also noted that this was an interdisciplinary team, and that the students were able to successfully integrate what they learned from their coursework in urban planning, public health, public policy, and management studies into a holistic approach.”

Outstanding Individual Student Project Award: “Mobile Home Community Health Needs Assessment,” Samantha Rosner, School of Public Health

RCP Program Assistant Bridget Roby presents the Outstanding Student Project award to Sam Rosner. Photo (c) Steve Schneider 2016.
RCP Program Assistant Bridget Roby presents the Outstanding Student Project award to Sam Rosner. Photo (c) Steve Schneider 2016.

RCP Program Assistant Bridget Roby presented the award, noting that “Sam Rosner’s masters project to conduct a needs assessment of the mobile home communities in Carver County changed and evolved throughout the year due to factors outside of her control, but she never once complained. Instead, she evolved right along with it. When focus group recruitment wasn’t going the way she and her project lead had planned, she tried new strategies and spent hours driving to Carver County just on the chance that someone was interested in participating in an interview. One Saturday she spent 6 hours waiting in a community center for focus group participants. And her hard work and persistence paid off—she was able to gain some meaningful feedback from residents of the two largest mobile home communities in Carver County and relay their viewpoints to her community partners at the Public Health Department. Throughout the year, Sam epitomized the flexibility that is required in real world projects.”

At the event, attendees also text-voted on the best student poster. Jonathan Cowgill and Laurena Schlottach-Ratcliff were recognized for their poster, “Wayfinding Plan for the City of Victoria.”

RCP Wayfinding Poster Final! (1)

Congratulations to the awardees, and thanks to all who contributed to this year’s partnership with Carver County!

Maria Wardoku is a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Awards & Achievements

2017 APA MN Outstanding Student Project Award

An RCP-sponsored project by students at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs received the 2017 Outstanding Student Project Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Planning Association. For their project in PA 5213: Introduction to Site Planninggraduate students Kevin Priestly, Andrew Degerstrom, and Joe Lampe collaborated with Brooklyn Park staff Jason Newby and John Nerge, and course instructor Dr. Fernando Burga, on a project titled “Find It, Cook It, Save It: From Healthy Food Access to Food Hub Recycling in Brooklyn Park.” The award was presented at the 2017 APA Minnesota State Conference in Mankato, MN, September 27–29, 2017.

2017 Gross Family Management and Leadership Award

An RCP-sponsored project by students at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs received the 2017 Gross Family Management and Leadership Award, which recognizes the best individual and team papers focused on management, leadership, or public service delivery in public or nonprofit organizations or networks. Papers must address a significant issue in the management and leadership of nonprofits, philanthropy, public agencies, and/or collaborations; demonstrate high-quality research and analysis of the issue; present sound recommendations for action, and demonstrate creativity and originality of thought. The team of Jargalmaa Erdenemandakh, Laura Langer, and Emily Coppersmith received the award for their final project in PA 5311: Program Evaluation, taught by Dr. Jodi Sandfort, which evaluated the impact of the City of Brooklyn Park's Community Rebranding Initiative. The award was presented at the Humphrey School commencement on May 13, 2017.

2016 APA MN Outstanding Student Project Award

An RCP-sponsored capstone project by students at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs received the Outstanding Student Project Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Planning Association. For their Participating in Policy and Planning Capstone, graduate students Chuck Demler, Kaela Dickens, Joseph Hartmann, Laurel Nightingale, and Kalli Perano collaborated with project lead and Carver County Parks and Trails supervisor Sam Pertz and UMN faculty advisor Kathy Quick on a project titled “Increasing Engagement with Communities of Color: A Toolkit for Carver County Parks and Recreation.” The award was presented at the 2016 Upper Midwest Regional/APA Minnesota State Conference in St. Cloud, MN, September 28–30, 2016.

2016 PEER Award

The Resilient Communities Project–Carver County partnership received the 2016 Carver County Public Employee Excellence Recognition (PEER) Program award in the Project-Based Teamwork category. The award was presented at the May 17, 2016, Carver County Board of Commissioners meeting. View a video of the awards presentation>>

2016 Outstanding Community Partner Award

RCP’s 2015-16 community partner, Carver County, received the 2016 Outstanding Community Partner Award from the Educational Partnership for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) Network. The award, which recognizes “one exemplary community partner” from among the local government partners that have worked with EPIC Network programs during the last five years, was presented at the 5th Annual Sustainable City Year Conference, held in San Diego, CA, March 13-16, 2016. Learn more >>

2015 Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education Award

The Resilient Communities Project was selected as the 2015 recipient of the MAGS/ETS Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education Award. Jointly sponsored by the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) and Educational Testing Service (ETS), this annual award is given to a MAGS member institution in recognition of outstanding contributions to domestic and international graduate education at both the graduate school and program level. Learn more >>

2014 APA MN Outstanding Student Project Award

An RCP-sponsored capstone project by students at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs received the Outstanding Student Project Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Planning Association. For their economic development capstone, students Charles Darnell, Robert Clarksen, and William Boulay worked with project lead and North St. Paul economic development director Paul Ammerman, under the direction of Lee Munnich and Lyssa Leitner, on a project titled "Assessing the Viability of a Business Improvement District in North St. Paul." The award was presented at the annual MnAPA Conference in Duluth, Minnesota.

2013 APA MN Outstanding Student Project Award

An RCP-sponsored capstone project by students at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs received the Outstanding Student Project Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Planning Association. For their land use and transportation planning capstone, Master of Urban and Regional Planning students Kyle Burrows, Kristina Nesse, Andrew Owen, and Renan Snowden worked with project lead and Minnetonka planner Jeff Thomson and UMN faculty advisor Mike Greco on a transportation demand management policy for the City of Minnetonka. The award was presented at the annual MnAPA Conference in Rochester, MN, September 18-20, 2013.

Water: An interdisciplinary approach to protecting an essential community resource

Recent data suggests that Lake Waconia—Carver County’s largest lake—is on the threshold of serious contamination from phosphorus. Photo Credit: Steve Schneider.

BY BRIDGET ROBY

As the issue of water quality has surfaced in national dialogue following the Flint, Mich. crisis, communities in Carver County, Minn. are in the midst of more than a half dozen collaborative projects aimed at improving the protection, management, and conservation of their own bodies of water. With more than 30 lakes, a rapidly growing population, and intensive agricultural activity within its borders, maintaining clean, sustainable water sources is no easy job.

The projects are part of the Resilient Communities Project partnership between Carver County and the University of Minnesota, and they range in focus from water quality education to best management practices for reducing lake contamination. But the students working on the projects are not all environmental studies majors. In fact, none are. Instead, they’re studying public policy, horticulture, engineering, and education and human development.

According to Nate Kabat, a Carver County planner and the lead County organizer of the yearlong partnership with RCP, the interdisciplinary nature of the projects is part of their strength.

“Examining water management topics in a multidisciplinary way acknowledges the complexity of water and its importance as an essential community resource,” Kabat said. “Gaining insight from multiple perspectives helps to drive innovation and develop more holistic solutions to best manage this precious resource.”

More than two dozen students from four University departments are working to do just that. And according to Tim Sundby, one of the project leads and a water resources technician for the Carver County Water Management Organization (CCWMO), their work is making a difference.

“The RCP process has been very useful in helping the County prioritize its resources and in creating more effective projects, requirements, and understanding by those involved,” Sundby said. “With the RCP projects that I have been a part of, all of these are important in meeting the State-defined tasks for the CCWMO.”

Countywide water management initiatives

Students in an Urban Hydrology and Water Quality course visited Carver County to assess capacity for storm water infiltration. Photo Credit: Lilly Rouillard.
Students in an Urban Hydrology and Water Quality course visited Carver County to assess capacity for storm water infiltration. Photo Credit: Lilly Rouillard.

Several projects this year are focused on water management at the county level. As the field of storm water management rapidly evolves, graduate students in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering are working to provide the CCWMO recommendations on how best to fine-tune its rules and guidelines regarding storm water reuse.

Historically, the goal of managing storm water was to move it off the landscape quickly and reduce the risk of flooding. Today, however, efforts are focused on keeping water where it falls in order to minimize the amount of pollution reaching lakes, rivers, and streams, and to replenish local ground waters.

Lilly Rouillard, one of the students in Professor John Gulliver’s Urban Hydrology and Water Quality course who is working on the project, said her team is currently researching the soil in the area to determine how much rainwater it can infiltrate and retain as storage. The group is also working to determine the size of a typical storm in Carver County so they know how much water storage local systems should be designed to manage.

Yet keeping storm water pollutants out of local lakes, rivers, and streams is only a piece of the puzzle. The CCWMO also works to minimize the spread of invasive species such as zebra mussel and spiny water flea, which can disrupt the local aquatic ecosystem. During the fall semester, masters students in a Humphrey School of Public

Signs at a boat launch in Victoria with information about lake contamination. Photo Credit: Steve Schneider.
Signs at a boat launch in Victoria with information about lake contamination. Photo Credit: Steve Schneider.

Policy course on program evaluation created a plan for evaluating the CCWMO’s boat inspection program aimed at reducing the spread of non-native species.

The team of students ultimately recommended three primary data collection instruments to assess boaters’ perceptions of the inspection process and its ability to slow the spread of invasive species. The tools are also designed to help determine what changes can be made to improve the inspection process for both boater and inspectors.

Madeline Seveland, the education coordinator for the CCWMO and the lead on this project, said CCWMO staff have reviewed the students’ evaluation plan and are working quickly to put it in place before the summer season.

“This is a newer program and we are interested in making sure it is as effective as possible,” she said.

Targeted initiatives to protect local lakes

Two local bodies of water in Carver County—Lake Waconia and the Grace Chain of Lakes—stand out as the focal point of projects aimed at reducing phosphorus contamination.

Phosphorus is a naturally occurring element that stimulates plant growth, and therefore is a popular ingredient in fertilizers. Yet when run-off and erosion from agricultural fields and fertilized lawns and gardens reach lakes, rivers, and streams, phosphorus can cause problems by stimulating excess plant growth and reducing the quality of the water.

Recent data suggests that Lake Waconia—Carver County’s largest lake—is on the threshold of serious contamination from phosphorus. To prevent further pollution, the CCWMO is looking to identify sites where structural and non-structural best management practices can be installed to reduce the amount of phosphorus and sediment being discharged into the lake.

Graduate students in a course on adult education are creating a program to educate residents of Downtown Waconia on practices that promote water quality. Photo Credit: Steve Schneider.
Graduate students in a course on adult education are creating a program to educate residents of Downtown Waconia on practices that promote water quality. Photo Credit: Steve Schneider.

“Our group is working with geographic information systems data to determine locations that would benefit from increased infiltration practices,” said Chloe Winterhalter, an engineering student working on the Lake Waconia project with a team of classmates in John Gulliver’s Urban Hydrology and Water Quality course. “These are areas that have a high estimated water accumulation, or areas where large quantities of water will be directly routed into Lake Waconia.”

Another group of Gulliver’s students is focused on a similar task for the Grace Chain of Lakes. The Carver Soil and Water Conservation District recently completed a study comparing the cost-effectiveness of best management practices to reduce phosphorus discharge in the chain of lakes, and the CCWMO wants to build off this work by analyzing the use of a variety of practices within a single treatment strategy.

Educating residents on water quality and conservation

While water management in public and communal areas is critical, most local water use takes place on private property—creating a need for public education. Several projects this year are focused on educating residents about healthy, safe, and efficient water use.

“Homeowner priorities have huge impacts on water resources in their area,” said Seveland, who is leading one of the projects focused on downtown Waconia. “Educating residents about how their property impacts local water resources is important to protecting those resources.”

The team of graduate students partnering with Seveland is part of Professor Catherine Twohig’s Designing the Adult Education Program course. Their goal is to create a program for educating residents of downtown Waconia on practices such as restoring natural vegetation along shore land, installing rain gardens, and improved lawn maintenance practices that can help prevent harmful run-off into Lake Waconia.

Another group of Twohig’s students is teaming up with the City of Victoria in an effort to reduce outdoor water use for lawn irrigation. Recent data shows that Victoria residents utilize 115–140 gallons per day per capita, well above the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommendation of 75 gallons per day per capita.

“We are looking forward to receiving a framework to guide the City in implementation of an education program geared toward reducing residential water use for lawn irrigation,” said Cara Geheren, the City’s engineer and lead on this project. “We are excited about the direction the students are heading and are looking forward to the results of their efforts.”

Students in Professor Eric Watkins’s Turfgrass Science course are also lending their expertise to the City of Victoria’s water conservation efforts by creating a homeowner guide targeted to high-water users in the City. The guide will teach homeowners about efficient lawn care and irrigation, the impacts of overwatering on predominantly clay soils in Carver County, seed types that reduce irrigation needs, and other practices that promote more efficient water use.

Geheren explained that these efforts are part of a larger undertaking by the City of Victoria to cut down on excess water use.

“The importance of water conservation cannot be overstated,” wrote Victoria Mayor Tom O’Connor in a recent letter to residents. “Appropriate conservation could help ensure an adequate supply into the future and also potentially allow us to defer additional infrastructure investments. Enhanced water conservation is a must; it benefits everyone.”

Bridget Roby is a Master of Public Health student at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health focusing on maternal and child health.

RCP End-of-Year Celebration

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Please join us for the

Resilient Communities Project  End-of-Year Celebration

Recognizing Progress Toward Community Resilience

Friday, May 13, 2016, 2:00-4:00pm A.I. Johnson Great Room, McNamara Alumni Center University of Minnesota, Minneapolis East Bank Campus (directions and parking)

The end-of-year celebration will showcase projects completed in collaboration with Carver County, RCP's partner community for 2015-16. Please join us and meet the faculty, students, County staff, residents, community partners and other stakeholders who participated in the partnership and are helping to advance sustainability and resilience in Carver County.

Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be served. If you plan to attend the event, please RSVP so that we can get an accurate count for ordering food and beverages.

 RSVP at https://umn.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_6hbve0j4ZBkRpIN

RCP End-of-Year Event Award Nominations

RCP will recognize one outstanding faculty member, one outstanding project lead, and one outstanding individual or team student project from this year’s partnership with Brooklyn Park at the RCP End-of-Year Celebration on May 12, 2017. Please take a moment to nominate those whom you think deserve recognition for their outstanding efforts and accomplishments through RCP this year!

Project leads and project associates may nominate faculty members and student projects. Faculty may nominate project leads and student projects. Students may nominate project leads.  All nominations must be submitted by Monday, May 1.

A committee composed of staff from RCP and Brooklyn Park will review nominations and make final selections. The top three nominees in each category will be notified prior to the event on May 12, 2017.

Nomination Form for End-of-Year Awards

FAQ:

  • May I nominate more than one person/project for the same award? Yes.
  • Can I nominate myself for an award? No, nominees must be nominated by someone other than themselves.
  • Will I be notified if I am an award recipient? RCP will notify the top three nominees in each category prior to the event on May 12, 2017.
  • Do I have to be present at the event to receive my award? RCP strongly encourages the top three nominees to attend, but attendance is not required.

RCP Student Spotlight: Sarah Sularz Designs Bikeable Links to Southwest Transit Stations

Sarah Sularz' capstone project focuses on increasing biking and walking to transit facilities in Carver County. Image courtesy of Sarah Sularz.

BY MARIA WARDOKU

RCP students bring a wealth of passion, experience, curiosity and talent to RCP projects—and perhaps no student exemplifies these qualities better than Sarah Sularz. Sularz, a native of Minneapolis, is graduating this May with a Masters in Landscape Architecture (MLA), and is contributing her considerable design talents to advancing biking and walking in Carver County through her capstone project.

Courtesy of Sarah Sularz
Sularz is graduating with a Masters in Landscape Architecture in May. Image courtesy of Sarah Sularz.

“The capstone process has been exciting. For the MLA students, it is our first self-directed project; all the way from choosing a theme, to topic conception, and now, going into the design process,” said Sularz. “I have been gathering information and creating a design and planning project to help SouthWest Transit (SWT), RCP, and Carver County increase bicycle and pedestrian facilities, create safe and easy-to-use trails and pathways from current residential communities [to SWT facilities], and grow the number of SWT commuters who do not rely on automobiles…It is shaping up to be a livable communities proposal just as much as a multimodal transit plan.”

“Sarah's capstone project's exploration into the links between public health, climate change, active transportation and mass transit may be one of the most important research-based design projects being done this semester,” said Bob Kost, one of Sularz’ capstone advisors and an adjunct faculty member in the College of Design. “This type of work typically focuses on more urban places. However a number of demographic trends, such as the movement of transit dependent, low-income families to the suburbs, indicate that providing convenient, cost-effective, healthy transportation choices for accessing mass transit in the outer-ring suburbs and metro fringe is increasingly important.”

Courtesy of Sarah Sularz
Sularz developed an infographic with background on SWT and transportation in Carver County. Image courtesy of Sarah Sularz.

Sularz’ project is on track to significantly benefit Carver County and SWT—and it benefits her personally and professionally as well. Sularz plans to use the materials from this project as she begins her job search post-graduation, and continue to advocate for her ideals within the design community. “My project is a total reflection of my career goals,” said Sularz. “I have always noticed differences between cities I visited, how people use streets, parks and public amenities. I have also been an urban cyclist and bike commuter for many years. I started when I was living in San Francisco, California and took a seven-mile urban trail called "the wiggle" every day to and from work…I had never felt better. I loved seeing the city a little differently every day, and having the freedom from traffic and stress while holding down a typical 9–5 job.”

Now, Sularz is on a mission to make that kind of joyful commute a possibility for more people. For this project, she says, “I was motivated by the potential of these suburban communities…I would love to see healthy, future-thinking design happen in the suburbs of the Twin Cities…I love the idea that this project might become reality. I'm happy and excited to be a part of a multimodal movement.”

Courtesy of Sarah Sularz
Sularz is developing graphics like this one to visually represent her plans for increased bikeability and walkability. Image courtesy of Sarah Sularz.

Maria Wardoku is a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Carver County Wins Award for Partnership with RCP

Carver County Board of Commissioners accepting the inaugural Outstanding Community Partner Award for this year’s partnership with the U of MN’s Resilient Communities Project. From left to right: Commissioner Randy Maluchnik, Commissioner and Chair James Ische, Commissioner Tim Lynch, Carver County Planner Nate Kabat, Commissioner Tom Workman, and Commissioner Gayle Degler.

RCP’s current community partner, Carver County, has received the 2016 Outstanding Community Partner Award from the Educational Partnership for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) Network. The award, which recognizes "one exemplary community partner” from among the local government partners that have worked with EPIC Network programs during the last five years, was presented at the 5th Annual Sustainable City Year Conference, held in San Diego, CA, March 13-16. Nate Kabat, a planner at Carver County and the program coordinator for the County’s current partnership with RCP, accepted the award.

“The Resilient Communities Project partnership has been extremely valuable to Carver County and it's partners,” Kabat said in accepting the award. "The success of this project stands on the shoulders of all the dedicated staff, faculty, students, and officials who have teamed up throughout the school year." In nominating Carver County for the award, RCP Director Mike Greco highlighted Carver County’s exceptional effort to assemble, coordinate, and manage the year-long community-university partnership, which involves 34 projects and more than 20 staff leads from eight different organizations, including five departments at Carver County (Administrative Services, Parks, Planning and Water Management, Public Health, and Social Services), SouthWest Transit, Eastern Carver County Independent School District 112, the Carver County Community Development Agency, the Carver County Historical Society, and the Cities of Victoria, Chaska, and Watertown. He also noted how Carver County projects have stimulated new graduate student research opportunities through course work and individual masters thesis projects, as well as the extraordinary responsiveness of staff to the hundreds of students working on projects and the County’s commitment to providing opportunities for students to gain professional experience beyond their classroom work through presentations to community organizations and governing bodies.

IonE investments take on lives of their own

Photo by opensource.com used under Creative Commons License.

Originally published on the UMN's Institute on the Environment website on February 3, 2016 by Monique Dubos

BY MONIQUE DUBOS

Children are the future, goes the familiar adage. Here at the Institute on the Environment, our projects are like our children. We invest in them with the expectation that their ideas and actions will change the world for the better.

“IonE’s mission of seeking solutions to grand environmental challenges spurs us to invest in innovative projects that will have major impacts,” says Lewis Gilbert, IonE managing director and chief operating officer. “The Resilient Communities Project, for example, is changing how we think about engaged teaching. We see our investments as catalysts for evolution at the U of M writ large.”

IonE has invested in many promising activities that have gone on to live independent lives of their own, supported through our funding vehicles, including Project Grants (formerly Discovery Grants), the Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment, and Mini Grants. Just like proud parents, IonE has nurtured the following programs and sent them out into the world to do good.

...

Each year, the Resilient Communities Project organizes yearlong partnerships that connect a Minnesota community with University of Minnesota expertise to tackle community-identified sustainability projects. The program was launched with a $30,000 IonE Discovery Grant. The following year, RCP partnered with the city of Minnetonka on 14 projects that engaged 25 classes and more than 200 students across eight colleges at the University. Student work helped the city advance initiatives to reduce phosphorus and sediment pollution in local lakes and rivers, evaluate and improve local housing assistance programs, plan for transit-oriented development around future light-rail stations, reduce traffic congestion, and increase engagement with local residents. Other partners include North St. Paul, Rosemount and Carver County.

“The IonE Discovery Grant in 2012 was instrumental in launching the program and that provided key support during RCP’s first two years of operation,” says RCP director Mike Greco. “Thanks to IonE and the U of M’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, RCP has connected more than 100 graduate and undergraduate courses across 11 U of M colleges and more than 1,000 students with meaningful experiential-learning opportunities during our first three years of operation. Those students have provided assistance with 59 community-identified projects that help to advance local sustainability in the Twin Cities metro area.”

The project is now evaluating its early operations and looking for ways to encourage implementation of the sustainability initiatives that come out of the partnerships.

College of Education and Human Development Ph.D. student Doug Moon is currently conducting a comprehensive evaluation of RCP’s first three partnerships. “We hope to use insights gathered from this process to inform how we can best support our community partners in implementing their sustainability efforts once the formal RCP partnership has ended, as well as how we might modify the program to better meet the needs of participants,” says Greco.

RCP is an initiative of the Sustainability Faculty Network at the University of Minnesota, with funding and administrative support provided by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.

Continue reading "IonE investments take on lives of their own">>

Diverse partners, diverse projects: A new focus on public health

BY BRIDGET ROBY For the first time in its four-year history, the Resilient Communities Project is partnering with a county, rather than a city—Carver County. This year’s partnership is unique and exciting in the diversity of community stakeholders it brings: four county departments, the Carver County Community Development AgencySouthWest Transit, Eastern Carver County School District, the Carver County Historical Society, and the Cities of VictoriaChaska, and Watertown. Working with a wide range of community partners means that we are also working on a new and diverse range of projects that span academic disciplines. New this year is a series of projects related to health and human services—a focus that has strengthened RCP’s partnership with the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Five public health masters students have launched year-long projects related to public health and community engagement in social services in partnership with the local school districts and public health department. The projects range in topic from better understanding mental health in schools and  increasing Latino family participation in community education to recommending ways to promote resiliency among youth with adverse childhood experiences.

Ashley Barrett, Master of Public Health student Ashley Barrett, Master of Public Health student

Erin Linden, Master of Public Health student Erin Linden, Master of Public Health student

Sam Rosner, Master of Public Health student Sam Rosner, Master of Public Health student

            Two public health students have teamed up to investigate the issue of mental health in Central School District—an issue that came to the forefront after two public suicides in 2012. Results of a 2013 statewide survey revealed that Central School students have higher-than-state-average rates of mental health problems on measures such as depression, feelings of hopelessness, and suicide ideation. “The community has suffered tragedy in the past and is really looking to offer strategies to families to cope with and understand mental health,” said Sam Downs, the project lead and a Public Health Program Specialist for Carver County Public Health. “This project will help determine priorities for addressing mental health issues in youth and possible strategies or solutions to address these.”

Ellen Howard, Master of Public Health student Ellen Howard, Master of Public Health student

Students Ellen Howard and Erin Linden are currently setting up interviews with stakeholders in the community to explore perspectives on mental health needs, gaps, and solutions to address child and adolescent mental health in Central School District. Based on their analyses of these interviews, the students will offer recommendations for how the school district can better serve student mental health needs. Along a similar vein, student Ashley Barrett is working with Public Health to explore resiliency among children with adverse childhood experiences—also known as ACEs. Adverse childhood experiences are stressful or traumatic experiences early in life, including abuse, neglect, and a range of household dysfunction. Experiencing one or more ACE increases an individual’s risk of numerous behaviors or conditions in later years, including smoking, obesity, alcohol abuse, drug use/dependence, depression, and anxiety disorders. “It is important for Carver County to understand ACEs and resiliency because ACEs affect a child's mental and physical wellbeing, and the effects have the potential to last into adulthood,” Barrett said. “If we are able to understand how we can have a positive impact on children early in life, we can potentially prevent these children from engaging in risky health behaviors such as smoking, binge drinking, lack of exercise, etc.” Through qualitative data collection and analysis, Barrett will assess what initiatives currently exist within schools and the community at large to promote resiliency among youth, and to recommend additional programs to combat the negative effects of ACEs. Meanwhile, student Grace Sianghio is partnering with the Eastern Carver County School District to increase Latino family participation in community education. The school district offers Family Literacy classes for parents with young children who are interested in learning English while being supported in their role as parents. Important health topics like immunizations and early childhood screenings are incorporated into the classes, which meet four days per week. Through a series of community discussions and focus groups, Sianghio is seeking to investigate how the school district can improve the relevance of its classes for Latino families and therefore increase participation.

Grace Sianghio, Master of Public Health student Grace Sianghio, Master of Public Health student

“The Family Literacy class is intended to promote parent and child education on the grounds of a mother’s education being the number one indicator of student success,” Sianghio wrote in her project proposal. “Based on its curriculum, increased enrollment holds the potential to improve health outcomes among the Latino population because they will have been introduced to health resources, health indicators, and health-promoting activities within the context of the local system.” The county public health department is also looking for ways to increase the relevance of its services for underrepresented groups, focusing specifically on residents of mobile home parks in the area. Student Sam Rosner is working with Public Health Specialist Tami LaGow to better understand the health needs, barriers, and priorities of the county’s largest mobile home communities. After compiling and analyzing available demographic data this fall, Rosner is now launching a series of focus groups within the parks to hear from residents about what health issues matter to them. Sustainability and resilience in Carver County means more than just a healthy environment. It means a strong economy, engaged community, and healthy people, too. Bridget Roby is a Master of Public Health student at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health focusing on maternal and child health.

Annual report highlighting early outcomes in Rosemount coming soon

More than 400 students and faculty partnered with Rosemount on 29 different community-identified projects. Photo courtesy of Alan Cox.

BY BRIDGET ROBY

Tools for promoting nature-based play. Recruitment strategies for the volunteer fire department. Concrete steps toward STAR certification—a national rating system for sustainable communities. These are just a few of the benefits Rosemount is reaping from its year-long partnership with the University of Minnesota through the Resilient Communities Project last year.

Throughout the 2014–2015 academic year, more than 400 U of MN students and faculty partnered with the City of Rosemount to tackle 29 community-identified projects related to economic development, environmental planning, community engagement, and more. As we move into the second half of our collaboration with Carver County, RCP staff have been looking back on our partnership with Rosemount to see what’s happened since student reports were handed over.

To showcase the accomplishments and some of the benefits of the partnership, we are in the final stages of creating an annual report that shares some of the early successes and student findings. According to Rosemount Mayor William Droste, the project has already made a difference in their community and will continue to have an impact as staff and elected officials process and put to use student recommendations.

“I knew we were going to receive a lot of input on various projects, but what we received ultimately was very high quality,” Mayor Droste said. “It was great information for us as a City Council to look at, plan, and figure out how to utilize the information going forward in a positive way for the citizens in our community.”

At the end of each project, students typically hand over 20- to 60-page reports filled with analyses, findings, and recommendations, so City staff and others leaders have their hands full processing the influx of information and determining next steps. As a result, it can often take months—or even years—before the true benefits of each project are realized. Yet there are several projects from last year that stand out for their immediate take-aways, including those related to nature-based play, recruitment and retention of local volunteer firefighters, and environmental planning for national STAR certification.

Students in public policy working to promote nature-based play visited Rosemount parks.
Students in public policy working to promote nature-based play visited Rosemount parks. Photo copyright Steve Schneider.

Garnering support for nature-based play

According to Rosemount Parks and Recreation Director Dan Schultz, a video describing nature-based play created by Dr. Tony Brown’s recreation and wellness students has already been a hit. As research has grown on how nature-based play improves health and development, the Parks and Recreation Department has wanted to bring more of nature back into the lives of residents. For the idea to stick, however, they needed support.

“[The video] really educated the parks commission as to what we were talking about,” Schultz said. “We popped the video in, and the whole thing was taken care of for us.”

The work of both Dr. Brown’s students and other graduate students working on the issue of nature-based play helped propel the issue into the public dialogue and—hopefully—into the next parks master plan.

“It has helped us speed up the process,” Schultz said. “At least this year and last year, we wouldn’t have had time to go out and do this research. It would have kept getting pushed to the backburner.”

Recruitment and retention strategies for local firefighters

Psychology graduate students worked with the Rosemount Fire Department to boost recruitment and retention of volunteer responders.
Psychology graduate students worked with the Rosemount Fire Department to boost recruitment and retention of volunteer responders. Photo courtesy of Deniz Ones.

Meanwhile, the local fire department has been busy implementing new strategies for recruiting and retaining firefighters. With a volunteer-based fire department, daytime staffing of fire responders—when most residents are at jobs outside of the community—has regularly posed a challenge to Rosemount.

According to Fire Chief Rick Schroeder, the fire department has already begun to implement several of the students’ recommendations, including working to attract more firefighters from area businesses and city government itself, and providing more feedback to firefighters to evaluate their performance. This past summer, the department’s command staff conducted one-on-ones to increase volunteer feedback.

“I was able to pull some valuable recommendations from [the students’] findings that will prove to be useful in the future when attracting new applicants as well as creating ways to retain them.”

Steps toward national STAR certification

Perhaps most publicly, the partnership helped Rosemount work toward STAR certification—a national framework for sustainable communities. According to former Rosemount planner Jason Lindahl, several of the projects Rosemount identified as priorities in the partnership were specifically designed to help the city work toward this prestigious certification. Among the forefront were projects related to climate adaptability and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Eight teams of students from a range of academic disciplines—including public policy, law, and adult education—worked on various aspects of the projects and offered a variety of recommendations for making Rosemount more sustainable in the face of climate change. In March 2015, Rosemount became the smallest city to date to achieve certification under the national STAR Community Rating System.

“[The RCP projects] helped provide more specifics for us to be able to fulfill more parts of the STAR assessment, so it helped us move toward that certification,” Lindahl said.

Altogether, these benefits represent just a few of many stemming from the nearly 30 projects with Rosemount last year. Check out the RCP-Rosemount Annual Report when it comes out this spring to read more about how students, faculty, and community partners are working to make Minnesota communities more resilient, sustainable places.

Bridget Roby is a Master of Public Health student at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health focusing on maternal and child health.

New project seeks to identify barriers to building healthy and equitable developments

Image copyright American Planning Association under Creative Commons License, https://conference.planning.org/imagelibrary/details/9000822/

BY MARIA WARDOKU

We already know that how you site, design and operate a residential or commercial development shapes how often people walk, bike, take transit, or drive, and whether that transportation experience is comfortable or harrowing. Developers’ choices help determine whether people have easy access to healthy foods, jobs, affordable housing, and community facilities like parks and schools.

Research, guidebooks, checklists, and toolkits on the subject of building healthy, equitable developments are plentiful. The International City/County Management Association and the Smart Growth Network have published books with hundreds of recommended policies for building smarter, like “encourage developers to reduce off-street parking” and “create active and secure open spaces.” The Urban Land Institute recently published a Building Healthy Places Toolkit with 21 recommendations like “design visible, enticing stairs to encourage everyday use” and “support onsite gardening and farming.”

With all of these tools available, what prevents developers from building healthier, more equitable developments?

A team of researchers is working with the Resilient Communities Project (RCP) to find out. With funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s Center for Prevention, over the next year the team will meet with development stakeholders to investigate barriers to building healthier, more equitable developments.

“I initiated this project with my colleague Eric Weiss,” said Sam Rockwell of the Center for Prevention.  “Eric and I were interested in the impact land use and development decisions have on health and equity. We wanted to find a way to influence these decisions in a positive way. We knew that barriers to healthy and equitable development patterns extended beyond a knowledge gap – a number of healthy development guides have been published in the last few years – but it was not clear what the barriers to healthy development were. Our goal for this project is to uncover some of the barriers to healthy and equitable development and provide insights into how the development community can overcome those barriers.”

Consultant, author, and University of Minnesota lecturer Peter Brown will bring his expertise in private sector development to the project. “I am interested in helping policy makers, designers, and planners understand how development works from the viewpoint of the people doing the work—I have a pragmatic, nuts and bolts, bottom-up perspective,” said Mr. Brown. “I am interested in knowing what developers can do in their buildings and onsite to increase healthy living, but also what kinds of relationships and arrangements they can make in the surrounding community to increase the health of their residents.”

RCP Director Mike Greco sees the Healthy and Equitable Development project as another way of working towards RCP’s mission. “One of the goals of the Resilient Communities Project is to advance local sustainability on the ground by helping communities move from ideas to implementation. The Healthy and Equitable Development project is a great example of that,” said Mr. Greco.

Maria Wardoku is a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs

RCP in the news roundup

Several publications recently featured the work RCP students have completed on our Carver County projects so far. The Star Tribune and Chaska Herald covered the Carver County Historical Society’s Andrew Peterson Farm project, while the Center for Transportation Studies' Catalyst took a look at the Chaska Safe Routes to School project. Professor Elizabeth Wilson made mention of the Carver County CDA’s Alternative Energy Development project on MPR News. Here are the highlights:

Star Tribune:

U students will do restoration and other work on a Waconia farmstead that inspired a famed novelist.

...At the farmstead, graduate students will work on projects including historic restoration, assessment of buildings and an archaeological analysis of how the farm has changed over time.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Wendy Petersen Biorn, Carver County Historical Society executive director. “They will save us a lot of time and money.”

Continue reading "Waconia farm's history is focus of U project">>

Chaska Herald:

It’s been more than 160 years since noted Swedish pioneer Andrew Peterson homesteaded his farm, just east of Waconia. Now, the Carver County Historical Society has taken several steps toward turning the historic property into an interpretive site.

…[C]ollege students have been studying the farmstead as part of the Resilient Communities Project, a one-year partnership between the University of Minnesota and local Carver County groups.

...The students will develop a “condition assessment” that the Historical Society can use in its planning. For instance the students will identify any structural issues with the barn and house.

Continue reading “Harvesting history: Plans take shape for famed farm” >>

Catalyst (Center for Transportation Studies):

As part of a U of M course last semester, students analyzed access to an elementary and middle school complex adjacent to a busy intersection in Chaska, Minnesota, and made recommendations aimed at helping local agencies improve pedestrian safety and access around the site.

Continue reading “Students recommend safe routes to school at Chaska intersection”>>

MPR News:

State Representative Melissa Hortman: What we see across Minnesota is especially small cities don't have the resources to answer all these questions that are coming to them now when people want to generate their own electricity....

Professor Elizabeth Wilson: Every year I teach Energy and Environmental Policy and the students make 5 minute videos on different issues...and one of the videos was on solar with Carver County, and they worked with Carver County as a client and they looked at the ordinances for siting solar. And what really struck me was how some communities want solar and they want everyone to see it, and others want to hide it so you don't see it. And so different communities have really different responses when it comes to energy technologies and how they all fit together.

Listen at: http://www.mprnews.org/podcasts/tom-weber. Scroll down to “What climate change goals set in Paris mean for Minnesota.”

Students recommend safe routes to school at Chaska intersection

Professor David Levinson and Chaska city engineer Bill Monk walk with students on a tour of the safe routes to school site in Chaska. Photo courtesy of Mike Greco.

<em>Article originally published in the January 2016 issue of the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies' Catalyst publication.</em>

As part of a U of M course last semester, students analyzed access to an elementary and middle school complex adjacent to a busy intersection in Chaska, Minnesota, and made recommendations aimed at helping local agencies improve pedestrian safety and access around the site. Their work was part of a safe-routes-to-school project sponsored by the Resilient Communities Project (RCP).

...The northeast corner of the intersection of State Highway 41 and County State-Aid Highway (CSAH) 10 is home to the Chaska Community Center, Chaska Elementary School, Chaska Middle School West, and Chaska Middle School East. Almost none of the students at the site walk to school; most ride buses. A study of nonmotorized facilities completed in 2011 identified a number of potential concerns within a two-mile radius of this site, including numerous pedestrian/bicycle crashes and high traffic volumes and speeds, says Bill Monk, Chaska city engineer.

Continue reading "Students recommend safe routes to school at Chaska intersection">>

What climate change goals set in Paris mean for Minnesota

Originally broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio News with Tom Weber, January 5th, 2016

On a segment on renewable energy on MPR News, Tom Weber spoke with University of Minnesota Professor Elizabeth Wilson, who mentioned her class’ work to look at solar development in Carver County through the Resilient Communities Project.

Listen at :http://www.mprnews.org/podcasts/tom-weber. Scroll down to "What climate change goals set in Paris mean for Minnesota."

The video Professor Wilson's students developed was included on the MPR News blog. Check out the students' video:

Harvesting history: Plans take shape for famed farm

Students are helping to restore the Andrew Peterson Farmstead through the Resilient Communities Project partnership with the Carver County Historical Society.   © Steve Schneider 2015

© Steve Schneider 2015 Article originally posted on the Chaska Herald website, January 7th, 2016, by Mark W. Olson BY MARK W. OLSON It’s been more than 160 years since noted Swedish pioneer Andrew Peterson homesteaded his farm, just east of Waconia. Now, the Carver County Historical Society has taken several steps toward turning the historic property into an interpretive site. ...[C]ollege students have been studying the farmstead as part of the Resilient Communities Project, a one-year partnership between the University of Minnesota and local Carver County groups.

Todd Grover is an adjunct assistant professor with the University of Minnesota School of Architecture and a partner with MacDonald and Mack Architects, which specializes in restoration and reuse of historic buildings. Each year, Grover’s students develop a preservation plan for a historical building. This year, the students studied the Andrew Peterson farm buildings — with special attention to the 1917 barn and the Andrew Peterson house.
The students will develop a “condition assessment” that the Historical Society can use in its planning. For instance the students will identify any structural issues with the barn and house.
“It gets fairly specific, not just ‘Repaint the barn,’” Grover said.

Continue reading "Harvesting history: Plans take shape for famed farm" >> 

Wrapping up the first semester of the RCP-Carver County partnership

Aquatic Invasive Species Program Evaluation project student presentation to Carver County water education coordinator Madeline Seveland (right) by students in PA 5311: Program Evaluation, taught by Leah Moses. Photo courtesy of Mike Greco.

With the end of the fall semester at the University of Minnesota upon us, the Resilient Communities Project is now halfway through our collaboration with Carver County. During the first semester of the partnership, RCP matched 20 projects proposed by Carver County and its partners with 25 classes across 14 departments and 7 colleges at the U of MN, and engaged approximately 200 students to work on these projects.

Students in Carissa Schively Slotterback Students in Carissa Schively Slotterback's Designing Planning and Participation Processes course at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs present their plan for community engagement around a redesign for the Crow River and riverfront park in Watertown, MN.
Photo courtesy of Maria Wardoku

During the last few weeks, students have been wrapping up their final reports and other deliverables, and have delivered presentations on their work to staff from Carver County on a wide range of topics, covering everything from aquatic invasive species and safe routes to school to historic building preservation and engaging Latino community members around childhood health issues.

RCP and Carver County staff are already busy preparing for additional work this spring semester, when students will build on work from the fall, as well as tackle new projects. Stay tuned for more updates as the RCP–Carver County partnership progresses.

Happy holidays from all of us at the Resilient Communities Project!

Frequently Asked Questions for Faculty

What is RCP?

The Resilient Communities Project (RCP, www.rcp.umn.edu) is an award-winning cross-disciplinary program at the University of Minnesota that supports one-year partnerships between the university and communities in Minnesota to advance local sustainability and resilience. The idea behind RCP is simple: Connect the students and faculty at a world-class teaching and research institution with local communities to address economic, social, and environmental issues, needs, and opportunities and make the world a better place.

How does RCP work?

Each year, RCP selects one partner community (typically a city or county) through a competitive request-for-proposal process. Working with staff and stakeholders in the community, RCP helps to identify 15–30 potential project ideas that will advance local sustainability and resilience based on community-identified environmental, social, and economic issues and needs. RCP then serves as a centralized “matchmaker,” strategically connecting these projects with existing UMN courses or with independent student efforts (such as a field experience, honors project, or thesis) that can provide research or technical assistance to move the projects forward. Local government staff and stakeholders work closely with faculty and students to provide local knowledge and deeper insight into the issues, ensuring projects are relevant to the community context. Outcomes from each University course or student project are documented in a final report and presentation to the community partner.

Who can participate?

This program is for faculty (including adjunct faculty and lecturers) at any University of Minnesota campus who:

  • teach an existing graduate or upper-division undergraduate course
  • are interested in assisting a local community with a high-priority project designed to advance local sustainability and resilience
  • would like to incorporate a real-world project into their course—either as part of an existing assignment that has an applied-learning, service-learning, or community-engagement component, or in place of an existing assignment that requires students to work on a “hypothetical” project or problem

Participation in the program is completely voluntary, and participating one year does not commit anyone to a subsequent year (although most faculty choose to remain involved). View a list of faculty who have previously partnered with RCP.

I already have students in my courses work on community-based or service-learning projects with partners or clients. Why should I link my course with an RCP project?

We applaud the fact that many faculty already require that students in their courses work on community-based or applied-learning projects, and recognize that faculty can solicit such projects on their own. Our goal is not to supplant these efforts, but we believe RCP does offer a different model for how to engage community partners. One significant benefit of this model for faculty is that RCP provides logistical support for projects throughout the semester, making it much easier and more efficient to incorporate a meaningful community-based project into your course. In addition, RCP is scaled for impact. The program is focused on a single community for an entire academic year, which allows for a much deeper and more sustained collaboration. By linking your course with an RCP project, you connect your students to a larger, longer term effort that will have a visible impact in the partner community.

What is the time commitment?

Although there may be a small upfront time investment to set up the project or course assignment, in most cases, very little additional time is required to participate in RCP. Frequently, participating in the program makes teaching applied courses easier and less time-consuming, as there is a coordinator finding projects, bringing partners to the table, and organizing logistics. We recognize that faculty have many demands on their time, and our goal is to minimize or eliminate barriers to participation. RCP staff will do much of the set-up work for you, including connecting you with project leads in the community, helping to develop a scope of work for the project your students will undertake, ensuring data and background information that students will need for the project are available at the beginning of the semester, and orienting your students to RCP, the partner community and the project.

What are the benefits for faculty of participating in RCP?

RCP benefits faculty by providing ready-made opportunities for students to engage in real-world projects with a committed community partner, providing the infrastructure and material support necessary to make the partnership successful, and sharing widely the work that students and faculty are doing on behalf of our partnership.

  • Partner community commitment: Because communities apply for and pay to participate in the RCP program, you can be certain that projects have been well-vetted, and that you and your students will have a committed partner at the table throughout the semester.
  • Staff support: RCP will assist you in identifying a project, connecting with community partners, gathering information or data sets, accessing city resources, setting up or adapting learning activities—all the components to make your course activity successful.
  • Financial support: Each participating RCP course can apply for up to $500 to support project-related course activities. Funds can be used to purchase materials and resources needed for the project, reimburse student travel, pay a stipend to guest speakers, or for other approved uses.
  • Publicity: RCP uses social media—and works with campus communicators and traditional media such as local, regional, and campus news organizations—to share stories about RCP projects and ensure that you and your students receive recognition for the good work you’re doing in the community.
How do students benefit from participating in an RCP-linked course or project?

RCP provides many benefits for students who collaborate with the program, including:

  • Efficient access to high-quality and well-organized community projects
  • Experience applying knowledge and skills to real-world issues
  • Potential to advance local sustainability and resilience and make a difference
  • Financial support for travel and other costs associated with the project
  • Opportunities to network with local government and industry personnel
  • Local and regional visibility and recognition for their work
What is my responsibility as a faculty member participating in an RCP project?

Faculty can choose to connect an entire course (i.e., a capstone, lab, or design studio), or an existing class project assignment within a course, to an RCP project, based on what works best for their particular course and curriculum. As a faculty participant, we ask that you:

  • incorporate at least one classroom activity or assignment focused on a city-identified project in which students interact with, and present their work to, city staff;
  • supervise and/or review student work to ensure high-quality, professional deliverables;
  • allow RCP to do a brief, 10–15 minute classroom presentation describing the program early in the semester to students working on RCP projects;
  • share with RCP staff the names and email addresses of students in your course working on RCP projects so we can communicate with them directly when needed;
  • maintain regular and timely communication with RCP and the community partner as needed throughout the project to ensure a collaborative working relationship;
  • assist RCP with obtaining digital copies of all student deliverables at the end of the semester; and
  • help RCP to identify a high-achieving student in your class with whom we can contract after the semester has ended to create a summary report and/or poster.
What is my course deliverable?

Typically, the course deliverable to the community partner includes the final reports or papers students turn in for a grade on the assignment, as well as a class presentation of their key findings and recommendations. Depending on the nature of the course and the project, RCP may also contract independently with a student in your course after the semester ends to produce a summary report of the best designs, solutions, and products generated by your class, and/or to design a poster summarizing the project for display at our annual End-of-Year Celebration in May. RCP is ultimately responsible for providing the community partner with digital and hardcopy versions of all deliverables, and will post these materials on the RCP website.

Do I need a background in sustainability to participate in RCP?

No, your expertise in your discipline and the work of your students can help our community partner meet their sustainability goals whether or not you have a background in sustainability or explicit course content focused on sustainability. For instance, a course project that provides recommendations that could lead to financial savings, staff efficiencies, or increased resident access to city services all support RCP’s goal of contributing to the quality of life and sustainability of our partner communities.

Are there opportunities to develop a new course?

Although RCP’s primary focus is on simply redirecting activities that are a part of existing courses to meet the needs of our community partner, we can work with interested faculty and with staff at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Educational Innovation to develop a new course (or rework an existing course or assignment) to connect with the RCP program. 

How do I get involved?

There are many ways to get involved:

  1. Let us know you’re interested! Contact RCP director Mike Greco at mgreco@umn.edu or 612-625-7501 to find out more or to share your ideas.
  2. Check out the list of projects identified by our community partner to see if there are connections with a course you’re teaching.
  3. Meet with RCP staff to connect with community partners and develop your course project.
  4. Attend our annual RCP End-of-Year Celebration in May to see examples of projects that students have completed in other courses and get ideas for how your own course might participate.

Engaging mobile home communities in healthy living

Carver County Health Specialist Tami LaGow and UMN School of Public Health student Sam Rosner help Riverview Terrace residents prepare their gardens for winter. The public health department piloted a community garden initiative in the mobile home park this year. Photo courtesy of Bridget Roby.

BY BRIDGET ROBY

On the surface, Carver County’s got it all. It ranks first in health outcomes among all Minnesota counties, and scores above both state and national benchmarks on nearly all health measures. Yet despite its overall wealth and wellbeing, Carver County is also home to five mobile home parks, where median household incomes and other determinants of health are well below the county average. Could the health of the county as a whole be overshadowing real needs in these communities?

Carver County Public Health is partnering with graduate students at the University of Minnesota to find out. In a year-long project, Master of Public Health student Sam Rosner will dive into the available demographic data to paint a more complete picture of mobile home communities in Carver County, and then conduct interviews and focus groups with residents’ to identify and better understand their health needs.

“There are great health disparities within the state of Minnesota,” Rosner said. “Determining the health needs within communities that are underserved and underrepresented is a step towards reducing these disparities. In a county like Carver, it can be easy to overlook the communities that are experiencing health disparities due to the good health statistics of the county.”

Rosner is currently piecing together information from the National Historical Geographic Information system, the Minnesota Population Center, and other existing county data to get a better sense of the population, housing, and economic demographics of the mobile home communities. Once she analyzes the data she has collected, she will begin identifying target groups to talk to about their health wants, needs, and priorities.

“So far I have found evidence that the areas of Carver County where the mobile home communities are located are not in accordance with the county averages,” Rosner said, explaining that this alone warrants further research on the needs in these communities.

Riverview Terrace Mobile Homes Park in Chaska. Photo courtesy of Bridget Roby.
Riverview Terrace Mobile Homes Park in Chaska. Photo courtesy of Bridget Roby.

Yet understanding a population’s needs is only the first step. Engaging the community in services and programs that meet those needs is critical in making sustainable improvements in population health. To help the health department build public engagement, graduate students in a Humphrey School of Public Affairs course are working in groups to propose engagement processes for one of the largest mobile home communities in Chaska—Riverview Terrace.

“Building engagement in Carver County's mobile home communities is essential to tailoring the Public Health Department's services to community needs,” said Karl Schuettler, a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student in the Humphrey School course. “This is especially critical in Riverview Terrace, whose primarily Latino population faces cultural barriers to integration into a county that has traditionally been mostly white and high-income.”

Students will present their final engagement plans to the Public Health Department in December. Project lead and Carver County Public Health Specialist Tami LaGow said she is looking forward to learning from the students’ recommendations. While the health department has begun initial outreach efforts in some of the mobile homes communities in recent years, LaGow said the department knows it can do better to understand and connect with the residents.

“We want our work to build on the strengths that already exist within these communities,” LaGow said.

Bridget Roby is a Master of Public Health student at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health focusing on maternal and child health.

Linking past to present through the Andrew Peterson Farmstead

The Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead in Carver County. © Steve Schneider 2015

BY MARIA WARDOKU From the road, the Andrew Peterson Farmstead looks like any other small farm you might expect to pass by in Carver County, with an old red barn and a few horses wandering the fields. But as students are discovering through the Resilient Communities Project, there is much, much more here than meets the eye. The story of the Peterson Farmstead stretches back 160 years, and in some ways, is only just beginning. A surprising history

The interior of a barn on the Andrew Peterson Farmstead. Photo courtesy of Mike Greco. The interior of a barn on the Andrew Peterson Farmstead. Photo courtesy of Mike Greco.

The story begins with Andrew Peterson, a Swedish immigrant who settled on the land in the mid-1850s. Peterson kept a journal detailing life on the farm, chronicling each day from 1855 through 1898. His journals provide a uniquely rich historical record of the period and daily activities and events on the farm. In the 1950s and 1960s, Swedish novelist Vilhelm Mober used Peterson’s diaries as the basis for a trio of novels about Swedish immigrants to Minnesota. The novels were turned into two acclaimed movies in the early 1970s (The Emigrants and The New Land). More recently, in 2012, a musical based on Andrew Peterson’s life was produced in Sweden. Beyond providing the primary source documents for the novels, movies, and a musical, Andrew Peterson also left a legacy as perhaps the most prominent horticulturist of the period in the entire Upper Mississippi River Valley, according to the Minnesota Historical Society. Peterson was a master of diversified farming. But the story of the farmstead didn’t end with Andrew Peterson’s passing in 1898. In 1978, the Farmstead was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. When the owner of the back 51 acres, Ward Holasek, passed away in 2013, he left his property to the Carver County Historical Society. The will was contested, but a complicated settlement was reached, where a property swap was agreed upon.   The Historical Society ended up owning 12.17 acres including the original Peterson farm building site.  It has since begun work to restore the property. Restoring the farmstead

Professor Todd Grover and Carver County Historical Society Director Wendy Petersen-Biorn tour the Andrew Peterson Farm. Photo courtesy of Mike Greco. Professor Todd Grover and Carver County Historical Society Director Wendy Petersen-Biorn tour the Andrew Peterson Farm. Photo courtesy of Mike Greco.

When Carver County was selected as this year’s RCP partner, Carver County Historical Society Executive Director Wendy Petersen-Biorn jumped at the opportunity to connect to expertise at the University of Minnesota to assist with planned work on the farmstead. Several University of Minnesota courses are helping to tackle the substantial task ahead of restoring and preserving the farm, and transforming the property into an educational and tourist destination. Alexandr Young is a student in a historic building conservation class offered through the U of MN’s School of Architecture that is working on the Peterson Farm project this fall. “Our class is doing a conditions survey report of the buildings that comprise the farmstead,” explained Young. “Through careful documentation and analysis of the interior and exterior of these buildings, the class will make recommendations for treatment.” Now more than halfway through the semester, the class has made good progress toward that goal. Student Sarah Ward shared that at a recent in-class presentation, “each group gave an overview of the condition of the building materials present, such as wood trim, flooring, glass in windows, drywall, paint finishes, etc. We identified any pressing matters that, if left unaddressed, could lead to further deterioration. We also identified original materials that are in good condition.” The experience is proving to be both rich and rewarding for the students. “We all glean different perspectives and insights,” said Joel Holstad, another student in the course. “I am [gaining] a profound appreciation for the craftsmanship of the structures and the creativity [involved] in their construction. Peterson built well, and yet he is only [one] example of what, at one time, was a common expectation that we would provide for ourselves. Can we imagine today a homeowner grabbing a shovel and digging out their own basement? Or dropping a tree and turning it into useful lumber?” Beyond advancing students’ professional growth, the RCP project will pay dividends for the Carver County Historical Socciety. “The work the students are doing will become part of the infrastructure planning for the property,” said Executive Director Petersen-Biorn. “It will save us years of work and thousands of dollars.”

Historic preservation students explore the site. Photo courtesy of Maria Wardoku. Historic preservation students explore the site. Photo courtesy of Maria Wardoku.

Looking to the future The School of Architecture class is only the first group to dig into the Peterson Farmstead, and the work so far only the first step in the Historical Society’s larger vision for the Peterson farm. The site will also be the focus of a master’s thesis project in the Department of Anthropology, as well as a project in a Department of German, Dutch, and Scandinavian class this spring that will investigate opportunities to market the farmstead as a tourist attraction. According to Petersen-Biorn, “the farm and historically significant diaries of Andrew Peterson will be used to encourage visitors of all ages to discover our diverse heritage and to understand how the past shapes the present and the future.” The serene rural character of the site belies the ambitious goals and whirlwind of student activity that will help to write the next chapter of the Andrew Petersen Farmstead’s story. Maria Wardoku is a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Announcing RCP’s 2016–2017 Partnership with Brooklyn Park

BY MARIA WARDOKU

Unique. United. Undiscovered? Not for long.

The Resilient Communities Project is excited to announce our partnership with Brooklyn Park for the 2016–2017 school year. RCP will match undergraduate and graduate courses across the University of Minnesota with the 19 potential projects that Brooklyn Park developed to advance its strategic goals.

The partnership will be one to watch closely, not only because of the innovation and creativity the projects will inspire, but because Brooklyn Park is already as diverse today as the rest of Minnesota will be by 2040. Brooklyn Park is a first ring suburb northwest of Minneapolis, and the sixth-largest city in the state. More than half of the city’s 79,000 residents are people of color, and 20% of residents are immigrants. Strikingly, 10% of residents are immigrants from Liberia, giving Brooklyn Park (when combined with Brooklyn Center) the largest population of Liberians outside of Liberia.

Brooklyn Park’s experiences today are other communities’ future challenges and opportunities. What better way to prepare for the future than to follow the efforts of this pioneering community and learn from its experiences? Of Brooklyn Park’s 19 projects , 11 touch on adapting to changing community demographics, so the partnership will produce a wealth of ideas in this area.

One of those projects is around developing a community kitchen. Brooklyn Park would like to support food businesses to promote small business development as well as reduce safety risks associated with home-based food businesses. Many of those using residential kitchens for food businesses are new immigrants. A community kitchen would help support the entrepreneurial spirit of communities of color in the city, as well as provide a resource for food safety education, healthy eating, and cooking classes.

Another exciting project that is certain to have broad applications beyond Brooklyn Park is an effort to obtain more detailed demographic data than what the Census provides. In order to effectively serve its increasingly diverse population, the City needs more information about the ethnicity of local residents and where different ethnic groups live within the City. In addition to better demographic information, the project will also map the needs and assets of families in each neighborhood.

Yet another project seeks to determine whether the City can feasibly provide and maintain multi-purpose athletic fields for a broader array of sports, given new demands for facilities for rugby, lacrosse, and cricket that have come with changing demographics.

These are just three of the 19 fascinating projects that students will work on beginning in fall 2016. Our partners at Brooklyn Park are just as thrilled about the projects as RCP.

Kim Berggen, the City’s Director of Community Development, will be leading the project from the Brooklyn Park side. “We are extremely excited to partner with the University of Minnesota next year to advance many sustainability projects of importance to our community,” Berggren said. “We believe students and faculty will bring innovative ideas that will help Brooklyn Park strategically invest in our future. Thanks to the University and to CURA for collaborating with local governments through a commitment to RCP.”

Jay Stroebel, Brooklyn Park City Manager, echoed Berggren’s excitement about the potential of this partnership, noting that “As one of the largest and most diverse cities in Minnesota, Brooklyn Park is a community with tremendous economic, environmental and social opportunity.  Given our significant prospects for the future, we look forward to working with our community partners and the University of Minnesota to address the challenges (poverty, redevelopment, aging infrastructure, etc.) we face and fully realize our community’s potential.”

Stay tuned for more updates as we discover Brooklyn Park, a bold, ambitious city leading the way forward through Minnesota’s changing demographic landscape.

Maria Wardoku is a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

KSTP Channel 5 News:  November 12, 2015, Brooklyn Park Named U of M ‘Resilient Communities Project’ Partner

Press release: Brooklyn Park Selected as Partner for U of M's Resilient Communities Project

Frequently Asked Questions for Students

What is the Resilient Communities Project?

The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is a highly successful, cross-disciplinary program at the University of Minnesota that supports one-year partnerships between the university and communities in Minnesota to advance local sustainability and resilience. The idea behind RCP is simple: Connect the students and faculty at a world-renowned teaching and research institution with local communities to address economic, social, and environmental issues, needs, and opportunities and make the world a better place.

How does RCP work?

Each year, RCP selects one partner community (typically a city or county) through a competitive request-for-proposal process. Working with staff and stakeholders in the community, RCP helps to identify 15–30 potential projects that will advance local sustainability and resilience based on community-identified environmental, social, and economic issues and needs. RCP then serves as a centralized “matchmaker,” strategically connecting these projects with existing courses or independent student projects at the University of Minnesota that can provide research or technical assistance to move the projects forward. Local government staff and stakeholders work closely with faculty and students to provide local knowledge and deeper insight into the issues, ensuring projects are relevant to the community context. Outcomes from each University course are documented in a final report and presentation to the community partner.

As a student, how can I participate in RCP?

Graduate, professional, and advanced undergraduate students can participate in RCP by enrolling in an RCP-affiliated course, or through connecting an individual thesis, capstone, or independent study to an RCP project. Please contact program staff at rcp@umn.edu to discuss connecting your individual work to an RCP project.

How do students benefit from participating in RCP?

In addition to helping the University fulfill its land-grant mission, RCP provides many benefits for students and faculty who collaborate with the program, including:

  • Efficient access to high-quality and well-organized community projects
  • Experience applying knowledge and skills to real-world issues
  • Potential to advance local sustainability and resilience and make a difference
  • Opportunities to network with local government and industry personnel
  • Local and regional visibility and recognition for their work
How do communities benefit from participating in RCP?

Communities benefit in many ways, including:

  • Efficient access to the full range of U of MN departments and resources
  • Increased local capacity through access to hundreds of students and thousands of hours of student time
  • An infusion of energy and creativity to move projects forward
  • Opportunities to test new ideas and approaches and make data-driven decisions
  • Visibility and recognition as a leader in sustainability and resilience
  • Opportunities to network with young professionals entering the workforce
Where can I get information about the projects that are part of the RCP-Ramsey partnership?

Summaries of the projects that are the focus of this year's partnership with the City of Ramsey are available here.

How does RCP help to promote the work students do?

RCP uses both social and traditional media to publicize the work of students and faculty, and stories about RCP projects frequently appear in on-campus publications and local media. Providing RCP staff with periodic updates and photos about the progress of your project helps us promote your work to a broader audience (provide your updates here). In addition, RCP hosts an annual End-of-Year Celebration where students are invited to participate in a poster session about their RCP projects.

Does RCP provide any financial support for projects?

RCP will reimburse reasonable project-related expenses incurred by faculty or students, including travel to and from our community partner, printing, and supplies. Lodging, meals, computer hardware or software, and parking at the University of Minnesota are NOT eligible expenses. To request reimbursement, you must submit a completed and signed U of MN Reimbursement Form, as well as itemized receipts for any eligible expenses. Follow these instructions for submitting a reimbursement request.

Is an RCP project something I can include on a resume or curriculum vitae, or in a portfolio?

Yes! An RCP project is a great way to demonstrate to future employers that you have hands-on, professional experience working collaboratively with and on behalf of a community partner or client.

How can I get more information about RCP?

Staff Biography: Bridget Roby

Bridget small

Bridget Roby is a master of public health student in the Maternal and Child Health program in the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, with a focus on health disparities. Prior to joining the RCP team, Bridget worked as a health educator for the Minnesota Department of Health. Her passion for community development and social justice led her to serve in the Peace Corps for two years in Burkina Faso, West Africa, where she worked on issues such as malaria prevention, reproductive health, and women’s empowerment. Bridget currently serves as a graphic designer and member of the development committee for the nonprofit Friends of Ngong Road, which provides education and support for children living in the slums of Nairobi. She earned her bachelor of arts from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in Journalism and Mass Communication and International Studies, with a minor in African Studies.

RCP-Affiliated Courses

RCP-affiliated courses provide the opportunity to apply your skills to a project identified as a high priority for advancing community resilience and sustainability. Graduate and professional students and advanced undergraduates can participate in RCP by enrolling in an RCP-affiliated course (listed below), or by connecting an individual thesis, capstone, field experience, culminating experience, or directed study to an RCP project.

Contact RCP staff at rcp@umn.edu to discuss connecting your individual work to an RCP project. You will work with city officials—and, where appropriate, other community stakeholders such as local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and local residents—to develop their projects. Because RCP courses work closely with the community to make sure the work is aligned with their needs, there is great potential for your work to be implemented.

Fall 2018 Semester Courses

Economic Development Fellows Consulting Program
ESPM 5245: Sustainable Land Use Planning & Policy
GIS 5574: Web GIS and Services
GIS 5578: GIS Programming
LAW 7606: Law Independent Research
OLPD 5201: Strategies for Teaching Adults 
PA 5211: Land Use Planning 
PA 5311: Program Evaluation
PA 5512: Workforce & Economic Development
PA 5721: Energy Systems & Policy
POL 1914: Generation Now: Young Adult Political Action in America    
PUBH 7994: Culminating Experience

Spring 2019 Semester Courses

Course list forthcoming

Embracing Diversity: Best Practices for Engaging Latino Residents in Carver County

Carver County Public Health hosted a garden clean-up event to wrap up the first year of its community garden initiative at Riverview Terrace Mobile Home Park. With insights from the RCP project, Public Health hopes to increase participation in future years. Photo courtesy of Bridget Roby. Carver County Public Health hosted a garden clean-up event to wrap up the first year of its community garden initiative at Riverview Terrace Mobile Home Park. With insights from the RCP project, Public Health hopes to increase participation in future years. Photo courtesy of Bridget Roby.

BY BRIDGET ROBY University of Minnesota students in the School of Public Health, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and the College of Liberal Arts have begun combining their efforts and expertise to help Carver County strengthen outreach and engagement with its growing Latino population. This mega-project is a confluence of interests and efforts, involving not just students from diverse disciplines but a range of community partners as well, including the Carver County Department of Public Health, Eastern Carver County School District, and the Carver County Parks and Recreation Department. “For Carver County, our goal is to be better equipped to engage with residents who aren’t always visible – yet who live, work, play and worship in this community every day,” said Jackie Johnston, Alternative and Community Education Director for the Eastern Carver County School District. “They are the members of this community suffering the greatest health disparities.” As the diverse list of county partners and academic disciplines suggests, students are approaching the issue of Latino engagement from three broad perspectives: public health, education, and parks and recreation.

Healthy families, healthy communities

From the public health perspective, the impetus for the project developed out of recent challenges Carver County Public Health faced in promoting healthy eating and active living among priority populations. “Public Health quickly realized there was a need to develop a deeper understanding of the Latino community and to find a way to build a bridge and a trusting relationship, eventually allowing for a community dialogue [about] barriers to health and long-term solutions,” said Public Health Program Specialist Jennifer Anderson, one of the project leads.

Students in PubH 6630 discuss barriers to early childhood screenings and immunizations for Latino families with Jackie Johnston and Jennifer Anderson from Carver County. Photo courtesy of Mike Greco. Students in PubH 6630 discuss barriers to early childhood screenings and immunizations for Latino families with Jackie Johnston and Jennifer Anderson from Carver County. Photo courtesy of Mike Greco.

To start, graduate students in Professor Zobeida Bonilla’s Foundations of Maternal and Child Health Leadership course have begun delving into the literature to identify common barriers to participation in services and programs among the Latino community, as well as best practices for overcoming those barriers to increase participation and engagement. Students are focusing specifically on participation in early-childhood screenings and immunization—areas that both Public Health and the School District have identified as needs. “I really appreciate the opportunity to work on something that will be used to improve the health of a community,” said Sierra Beckman, a Master of Public Health candidate and student in Bonilla’s course. Beckman is part of a group of students that has begun researching best practices for increasing immunization rates among school-aged Latino children. While Bonilla’s students will focus primarily on background research, two undergraduate Spanish language students have embarked on a series of key-informant interviews with leaders in the local community to assess the potentially unique needs of Latinos in Carver County. As they gain a deeper understanding through their discussions and observations of community events, they will begin developing focus group questions that get to the core of the community’s needs and barriers to health. Students in a School of Public Health course on qualitative research methods will likely conduct the focus groups and analyze the data in the spring.

Engaging parents, preparing students

The Eastern Carver County School District (ISD 112) is also looking at ways to build and strengthen relationships with Latino parents to help their children succeed in school. “The district, and specifically community education, would like to see more Latino representation in our programs and services,” said Johnston. “We struggle to help families engage in the school process and for the children to come to school prepared to be successful.” The District currently offers family literacy programs for parents and preschool kids focused on English-language learning, early-childhood assistance, and parent orientation to the education system, but participation has remained low. The Community Education program wants to hear from the community about how to address the barriers to participation. As students examine barriers to participation and best practices for engaging Latino residents, they will also look at how best to build bridges between the school system and families. Johnston said the goals from the District’s perspective are increased involvement and input from Latino residents in both the schools and the community at large, and ensuring that the District has contact with each child at no later than three years of age to maximize the chances for school readiness and success.

Latino voices for recreation and play

At the same time, Carver County Parks and Recreation wants to explore ways to make sure the county’s parks, trails, and open spaces are meeting the needs of Latino residents. As the County embarks on the process of updating its comprehensive plan for the coming years, County planning staff want to make sure Latino voices are heard and help shape the community’s path ahead. “[The] Metropolitan Council has explained in their new 2040 Regional Framework that a further and better understanding of diverse—and oftentimes underserved—populations needs to be [included in future] park planning, but also considered [with respect to] existing park and trail areas,” said Sam Pertz, Parks and Trails Supervisor. “This covers everything from the public processes that park agencies utilize to the day-to-day services and opportunities [that are made] available.” Pertz has teamed up with graduate students in Professor Carissa Slotterback’s Designing Planning and Participation Processes course to develop a public engagement process for the County to use in generating public and stakeholder input from a range of participants and communities. The ultimate goal is to allow diverse voices to inform and shape the Parks and Recreation plans for the years ahead. Although the semester is young and the task is great, students and faculty alike are eager to combine their efforts to form the building blocks of a stronger, more reciprocal relationship between Carver County and Latino residents. Bridget Roby is a Master of Public Health student at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health focusing on maternal and child health.

Reimagining the River

Fishing draws people to the Crow River in Watertown, Minnesota. The existing dam is visible in the background. © Steve Schneider 2015

BY MARIA WARDOKU

Spring river flooding is something of an annual tradition in Minnesota. Lately those floods have happened more frequently, and been more severe, than in the past. While some towns are wringing their hands about ever worsening flooding, one small town of 4,000 people is finding the silver lining. The City of Watertown in Carver County is beginning to reimagine its relationship with the Crow River, which flows near the community’s downtown.

“[Y]ou hear a lot about the Crow River when it floods,” said Paul Moline, manager of Planning and Water Management at Carver County. “People complain about their stream banks eroding, or roads closing— it’s a negative thing that happens almost every year, sometimes a couple times a year. We’re trying to turn [the river] into. . .more of a positive thing: hey, you can actually get out and use the river!”

The spring thaw and dramatically higher water levels that often bring destruction could—with the right engineering—create an opportunity for recreation, such as whitewater rafting, canoeing or kayaking. And improvements that facilitate recreation in times of high water flow could also greatly improve conditions for fishing all year round.

The prospect of improving the Crow River’s fish habitat was the major impetus for Carver County and Watertown’s interest in rethinking the river. While the river is already a popular fishing spot, there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of fish passage upstream and the overall health of the river. As in many river towns across the country, Watertown’s river has a small dam meant to control water flow and reduce flooding. More and more communities across the country have been removing or altering their dams when they fall into disrepair or prove to be more damaging to the river than helpful. In 2014, at least 74 dams were removed.

At the same time as concern began to build about the effects of the dam on fishing and recreational opportunities, the City of Watertown’s attention was focused on revitalizing its downtown area. When the opportunity arose to partner with the University of Minnesota through RCP, the City felt that the time was ripe to begin laying the groundwork for the river revitalization project. “There’s kind of this heightened awareness and concern about the downtown,” said Watertown City Administrator Shane Fineran. “[The connection to the river] is an extension of the downtown and a connection to the downtown, so things that you can do to enhance, or protect, or preserve, or add to that experience are worth taking a look at.”

Civil engineering graduate students take measurements in the river. Photo courtesy of Maria Garcia-Serrana.

There is no quick fix for restoring the flow of the river. There are many factors to consider in reconstructing or even removing the dam: fish passage at high- and low-water levels, whitewater or other recreational features for canoers and kayakers, flood management, stream-bank erosion, and impacts on water levels upstream, to name just a few. To help the city understand the feasibility of different stream restoration models, civil engineering graduate students at the U of MN are conducting an analysis of the possibilities with the support of RCP. The Watertown project benefits the students as well as the city: it serves as the culminating course in the students’ journey to earn certification in stream restoration. “It provides a real direct project for students to have hands on experience in stream restoration. . .and still satisfies all of the elements that we want to do in the class, so it’s perfect for that,” said Professor Vaughan Voller, who is co-teaching the course.

But all the models and measurements in the world mean nothing without community support for altering the flow of the river. That’s where urban planning graduate students at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs come in. Tara Osendorf is part of Dr. Carissa Slotterback’s Designing Planning and Public Participation course, which is taking a look at how to engage stakeholders and the general public in reimagining their relationship with the Crow River. “[The project] seemed like something that you wouldn’t usually get the chance to work on, and I thought that might bring forward some interesting questions in terms of participation,” said Tara.  Her team will be helping to design a public participation process to engage community members in the potential redesign of the dam and the waterfront along the river.

More students will be coming on board mid-semester and early next year to assist on other aspects of the project, including one course in Forest Resources that will take on the challenge of analyzing the potential for recreational tourism that might result from redesigning or removing the dam.

For updates on this and other RCP projects as the year-long partnership with Carver County progresses, sign up for the RCP newsletter or follow RCP on Facebook and Twitter.

Maria Wardoku is a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Advisory Committee

The Resilient Communities Project Advisory Committee is comprised of representatives from within and outside the University of Minnesota who provide strategic advice and guidance to the program.



Gretchen Nichols

Program Officer, Twin Cities LISC
gnicholls@lisc.org  |  651.265.2280

Matt Simcik

Associate Professor, School of Public Health, U of MN
msimcik@umn.edu  |  612.626.6269

Bob Streetar

Community Development Director, City of Oakdale
bob.streetar@ci.oakdale.mn.us

Carissa Slotterback

Associate Dean, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, U of MN
cschively@umn.edu

Megan Butler

Doctoral Student, College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences, U of MN
butle553@umn.edu

Nate Kabat

Assistant City Administrator, City of Chaska
nkabat@chaskamn.com

Angelica Klebsch

Policy Director, CItizens League
aklebsch@citizensleague.org

Launching the Carver County Partnership

The RCP-Carver County Kickoff Event, held Friday, September 11, at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen

BY MARIA WARDOKU

On a crisp fall Friday last week, staff and elected officials from Carver County and other partner agencies gathered with students, faculty, and RCP staff at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen to celebrate the official launch of the Resilient Communities Project–Carver County partnership. The collaboration will provide hands-on learning opportunities for hundreds of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who will work on more than 30 sustainability-related projects identified by Carver County and its partners.

Carver County staff, RCP staff, and U of MN faculty have been hard at work since March—when the partnership was announced—linking the county’s needs with dozens of courses that will be taught this coming academic year. Now that fall semester is finally underway at the U of MN, the partnership is celebrating its official launch as students begin work on their projects. In the weeks to come, staff from Carver County will be visiting their partner classes and hosting student field trips to locations throughout the west-metro community.

Guests at Friday’s event were welcomed by Ed Schneider, director of the Landscape Arboretum. Schneider highlighted several new initiatives at the Arboretum, including a planned bee and pollinator discovery center, a Chinese garden that is currently under construction, and renovation of the Arboretum’s iconic Red Barn.

Randy Maluchnik, chair of the Carver County Board of Commissioners, spoke next, highlighting the value of the partnership with the University of Minnesota through RCP. Maluchnik noted that the County’s projects largely stem from goals and objectives outlined in the organization’s recently adopted strategic plan, and remarked that the energy, imagination, and hard work of students could help to propel these efforts forward.

Guests also heard from two project leads from the Carver County partnership about the stories behind their projects.

Shane Fineran, city administrator for the City of Watertown, highlighted a residential marketing campaign project that will help the city differentiate itself and promote the schools, businesses, and natural resources that make it a special place to live. Students will investigate how first- and second-time homebuyers make purchasing decisions and suggest marketing tactics that the City can use to attract homebuyers. Fineran noted that none of Watertown’s three RCP projects would have been feasible for the city’s small staff to undertake on their own, and that all of the projects have the potential to cost-effectively enhance the Watertown community.

Wendy Petersen-Biorn, executive director of the Carver County Historical Society, told the fascinating story of the Andrew Peterson Farmstead, an important site for Minnesota’s Swedish heritage. Peterson was a Swedish immigrant to Minnesota in the mid-1800s whose diary became the basis for several historical novels, a movie, and even a Swedish musical, and the site is a popular tourist attraction for visitors from Scandinavian countries. Because of the RCP partnership, the Historical Society stands to gain information about historic restoration, farmland preservation, and tourism marketing from students studying architecture, anthropology, strategic communication, and yes, Swedish. This kind of work, all of which will enhance the quality of the site, would have taken years for the Historical Society to accomplish alone, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, Peterson-Biorn said.

RCP Director Mike Greco ‘s remarks focused on the broader RCP–Carver County partnership, including the key factors that lead to Carver County’s selection as this year’s RCP partner: the great diversity of projects, the range of community partners engaged, and the clear commitment to community sustainability. Greco highlighted the more than one dozen projects that will be matched this fall semester with 19 courses across 11 departments at the U of MN, as well as additional projects that will be the focus of student work in spring 2016.

We are looking forward to an exciting, challenging year working on an array of projects that will help to achieve some of Carver County’s strategic goals and help make the county a more livable, sustainable, and resilient community..

Make sure to subscribe to our quarterly e-newsletter and follow the Resilient Communities Project on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on the partnership throughout the year!

Maria Wardoku is a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Grand Challenge: Build Resilient Communities

Photo credit: Flickr user m01229 under Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Article originally posted on Institute on the Environment website, August 7, 2015, by Monique Dubos

BY MONIQUE DUBOS

More than half of all people live in cities, a number expected to rise to 60 percent by 2050, according to the United Nations. That means that how we build and manage our urban areas is “one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century,” wrote John Wilmoth, director of the United Nations Population Division, in a recent report.

It’s not surprising, then, that the University of Minnesota has recognized the need to focus on cities in its recently released strategic plan detailing the first of a series of grand challenges it aims to address over the next 10 years: cultivating a sustainable, healthy, secure food system; advancing industry while conserving the environment and addressing climate change; and building vibrant communities that enhance human potential and collective well-being in a diverse and changing world. 

Among the tools the University is using to deliver on that commitment is the Resilient Communities Project, an initiative supported by IonE and the Center for Urban Regional Affairs that organizes yearlong partnerships between the University and Minnesota communities, matching hundreds of graduate students to sustainability-related projects identified by the chosen community.

RCP director Mike Greco describes the program and how it is helping build more sustainable cities in this Q&A.

Continue reading "Grand challenge: build resilient communities" >>

Carver County Projects

For the 2015–2016 academic year, RCP collaborated with Carver County and its partners on 29 projects that were matched with 50 courses across 22 academic departments at the University of Minnesota, providing hands-on, applied research opportunities to more than 350 graduate, professional, and upper-division undergraduate students. The projects are described below. Where available, links are provided to final student reports, presentations, and posters.

Energy and Environmental Stewardship Projects

Alternative Energy Development and Regulation in Carver County Project Goal: Identify best practices and policy tools that can be used by County and local government to accommodate and attract high-quality solar and other alternative energy projects while protecting community interests. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Community Development Agency (CDA) Project Lead: Brenda Lano, Carver County CDA

PA 5721: Energy and Environmental Policy (Instructor: Elizabeth Wilson)  Final Report + Presentation + Poster | Video Spot

Chaska Solar Fields Project Goal: Evaluate three parcels in Chaska that have been identified as potential sites for a solar field. Results of this project will lead to development of renewable green power to serve Chaska residents and the municipal utility. Sponsoring Agency: City of Chaska Project Lead: Andrew Romine, City of Chaska

BBE 5733: Renewable Energy Technologies (Instructor: Min Addy)  Final Report and Presentation

Facility Energy Use Project Goal: Determine options for integrating renewable energy sources into Carver County government buildings, including the government center in Chaska and the public works building in Cologne. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Administration Department Project Lead: Nick Koktavy, Carver County

BBE 5733: Renewable Energy Technologies (Instructor: Min Addy) Solar Outdoor Lighting  Final Report and Presentation Wind Power  Final Report and Presentation Solar Water Heater  Final Report and Presentation

Evaluation of Stormwater Reuse Practices Project Goal: Determine best practices in developing stormwater re-use (irrigation) systems that account for soil suitability, vegetation types, application areas and rates, efficient storage, maintenance, redundancies, and monitoring effectiveness to inform updates to the Carver County Water Management Organization Rules and Guidelines. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Water Management Organization (WMO) Project Lead: Paul Moline, Tim Sundby, and Charlie Sawdey, Carver County WMO

CEGE 5511: Urban Hydrology and Water Quality (Instructor: John Gulliver) Storm Water Reuse  Final Report and Poster | Final Presentation Lake Waconia Best Management Practices  Final Report + Presentation + Poster Grace Chain of Lakes Best Management Practices  Final Report + Presentation + Poster

Watertown Whitewater Park Project Goal: Investigate the feasibility of removing or restructuring the dam on the Crow River to enhance the fishery in the river and create a whitewater recreation attraction in the City of Watertown. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Water Management Organization (WMO) Project Lead: Paul Moline, Carver County WMO

FNRM 5101: Park and Protected Area Tourism (Instructor: Ingrid Schneider)  Final Report

PA 5253: Designing Planning & Participation Processes (Instructor: Carissa Slotterback)  Final Report and Poster

CEGE 8602: Stream Restoration Practice (Instructors: Vaughn Voller and Chris Paola)  Group 1 Final Report | Group 2 Final Report and Poster

PA 5145: Civic Participation in Public Affairs (Instructor: Kathy Quick)  Final Report and Poster

Housing Opportunity Projects

Barriers to the Development of Affordable Rental Housing and Single Family Owner Occupied Homes Project Goal: Build on the results of the recently completed Comprehensive Housing Needs Assessment by Maxfield Research by analyzing how existing County and City policies, codes, and practices impact market supply for senior housing, workforce housing, and housing for homeless populations. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Community Development Agency (CDA) Project Lead: Allison Stretch, Carver County CDA

HSG 4461: Housing Development and Management (Lyn Bruin)  Final Poster

PA 5261: Housing Policy (Instructor: Ed Goetz)  Group 1 Final Report | Group 2 Final Report

Housing Improvement Area (HIA) Needs Assessment Project Goal: Determine the need for HIAs within Carver County, and research and evaluate approaches being used nationally to administer HIAs. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Community Development Agency (CDA) Project Lead: Brenda Lano, Carver County CDA

PA 5261: Housing Policy (Instructor: Ed Goetz)  Final Report

Promoting the Expansion of the Carver County Community Land Trust throughout Carver County Project Goal: Explore how the Carver County Community Development Agency (CDA) can build on the success of the Community Land Trust  program in Waconia by expanding the program to create permanently affordable homeownership options in other communities in Carver County. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County CDA Project Lead: Brenda Lano, Carver County CDA

PA 5261: Housing Policy (Instructor: Ed Goetz)  Final Report

Watertown Community Residential Marketing Campaign Project Goal: Develop a marketing campaign that highlights the City of Watertown’s amenities and community characteristics—such as natural resources, schools, and a vibrant downtown—to attract home buyers and business development. Sponsoring Agency: City of Watertown Project Lead: Shane Fineran, City of Watertown

PA 5261: Housing Policy (Instructor: Ed Goetz)  Final Report

Alternative Transportation Projects

Trail Wayfinding Signage Plan Project Goal: Develop a trail wayfinding program for the City of Victoria, and coordinate with neighboring Cities and the County to promote consistent user experiences for trail users. Sponsoring Agency: City of Victoria Project Lead: Ann Mahnke, City of Victoria

PA 5511: Community Economic Development (Instructor: Bob Streetar)  Final Report + Presentation + Poster

ARCH 3250: Community Design Practice Workshop (Instructor: James Wheeler)  Final Report

Safe Routes to School: Chaska Community Center and School Complex Project Goal: Evaluate the Chaska Community Center and School District 112 middle and elementary school complex located at Highway 41 and Engler Boulevard to recommend improvements that would enhance bike and pedestrian access to the area and circulation within the complex. Sponsoring Agency: City of Chaska Project Lead: Bill Monk, City of Chaska

CEGE 3201: Introduction to Transportation Engineering (Instructor: David Levinson)  Compiled Final Report | Group 1 Presentation | Group 2 Presentation | Group 3 Presentation | Group 4 Presentation

ARCH 3250: Community Design Practice Workshop (Instructor: James Wheeler)  Final Report

Park & Ride Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Project Goal: Inventory the current pedestrian and bicycle environment at SouthWest Transit park-and-ride facilities, identify options for improvements, and prioritize improvements for implementation. Sponsoring Agency: SouthWest Transit Project Lead: Matt Fyten, SouthWest Transit

LA 8554: Project Programming (Advisor: Joe Favour)  Final Report and Presentation

Marketing Transit Sustainability Project Goal: Develop marketing materials and strategies that can be used to promote the sustainability benefits of SouthWest Transit’s services. Sponsoring Agency: SouthWest Transit Project Lead: Matt Fyten, SouthWest Transit

JOUR 4263: Strategic Communication Campaigns (Instructor: Hyejoon Rim)  Final Report and Presentation

Human Services Projects

School-Based Mental Health for Central School District Project Goal: Identify school-based mental health models and best practice to determine options, implementation strategies, and resource needs for developing such a program for the Central School District, located in Norwood Young America. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Public Health Department Project Lead: Samantha Downs, Carver County

PUBH 7784: Public Health Administration and Policy Master's Project (Advisor: Donna McAlpine)  Final Report + Presentation + Poster

Childhood Maltreatment Project Goal: Analyze the incidence and impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in the County, and identify opportunities to build resistance, support families, and strengthen communities to reduce the incidence of childhood maltreatment. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Public Health Department Project LeadJean Pierson, Carver County

PUBH 7784: Public Health Administration and Policy Master's Project (Advisor: Dr. Ezra Golberstein)  Final Report

Mobile Home Parks: Demographics, Needs, Amenities Project Goal: Assess the public-health needs of mobile-home community residents in Carver County, and identify interventions and communication strategies that are culturally appropriate for residents. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Public Health Department Project Lead: Tami LaGow, Carver County

PA 5253: Designing Planning & Participation Processes (Instructor: Carissa Slotterback)  Group 1 Final Report | Group 2 Final Report | Group 3 Final Report

PUBH 7784: Public Health Administration and Policy Master's Project (Advisor: Beth VIrnig)  Final Report and Poster

SW 8551: Advanced Community Practice: Assessment, Organizing, and Advocacy (Instructor: Liz Lightfoot)  Final Report and Poster

Offender Employment Infrastructure Development Project Goal: Promote hiring of ex-offenders by local employers in Carver County, and develop strategies for ex-offenders to be successfully reintroduced into the local workforce and to sustain successful placements . Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Social Services Department Project Lead: Rod Franks, Carver County

OLPD 5204: Designing the Adult Education Program (Instructor: Catherine Twohig)  Final Report and Presentation

Community Engagement and Education Projects

Victoria Water Conservation and Education Program Project Goal: Develop a water conservation and education program to reduce outdoor water use for lawn irrigation in the City of Victoria. Sponsoring Agency: City of Victoria Project Lead: Cara Geheren, City of Victoria

OLPD 5204: Designing the Adult Education Program (Instructor: Catherine Twohig)  Final Report and Presentation

Downtown Waconia Water Quality Education Campaign Project Goal: Based on results from a recent resident "knowledge, attitudes, and practices" survey, develop education and marketing tools that the Carver County Water Management Organization (WMO) can use to encourage and assist residents to implement best-management practices that treat storm water runoff and improve surface water quality. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Water Management Organization (WMO) Project Lead: Madeline Seveland, Carver County WMO

OLPD 5204: Designing the Adult Education Program (Instructor: Catherine Twohig)  Final Report and Presentation

Latino Community Engagement Exploration Project Goal: Identify best practices and strategies for Carver County, local governments, and other agencies to more effectively engage the Latino population in the county about community services and programming. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Public Health Department Project Leads: Jennifer Anderson, Carver County; Sam Pertz, Carver County; Jackie Johnston, Eastern Carver County School District

PA 5253: Designing Planning & Participation Processes (Instructor: Carissa Slotterback)  Final Report and Poster

PUBH 6630: Foundations of Maternal and Child Health (Instructor: Zobeida Bonilla)  Group 1: Final Report + Presentation + Poster | Group 2: Final Report and Presentation | Group 3: Final Report + Presentation + Poster | Group 4: Final Report + Presentation + Poster

PUBH 7784: Public Health Administration and Policy Master's Project (Advisor: Kirk Allison)  Final Report and Presentation

PA 8081: Participating in Policy and Planning Capstone Workshop (Instructor: Kathy Quick)  Final Report and Presentation

SPAN 3404: Medical Spanish and Community Health Services (Instructor: Emilce Lopez)  Final Presentation and Poster

Assessing Adult Learner Needs Project Goal: Identify and assess models and strategies for delivering adult education programming in the absence of a higher education institution within Carver County. Sponsoring Agency: Eastern Carver County School District (ISD 112) Project Lead: Jackie Johnston, Eastern Carver County School District

OLPD 5296: Field Experience in Adult Education (Advisor: Rosemarie Park)  Final Report

Community Identity Projects

Eco-Tourism Marketing Plan Project Goal: Create a marketing plan that encompasses the unique natural amenities located in Victoria and Eastern Carver County, including parks, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, lakes and water bodies, outdoor recreation activities, wineries and orchards, breweries, and other businesses that are accessible via bike and pedestrian trails and that appeal to visitors seeking to revel in the outdoors. Sponsoring Agency: City of Victoria Project Lead: Ben Landhauser, City of Victoria

FNRM 5101: Park and Protected Area Tourism (Instructor: Ingrid Schneider)  Group 1: Final Report and Presentation | Group 2: Final Report and Presentation

JOUR 4263: Strategic Communication Campaigns  (Instructor: Hyejoon Rim)  Group 1: Final Report and Presentation | Group 2: Final Report and Presentation

Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead and the Urban/Rural Edge Project Goal: Inform planning and historic preservation efforts related to the Andrew Peterson Farmstead to maximize the site’s potential as a public resource and an historic attraction. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Historical Society Project Lead: Wendy Petersen-Biorn, Carver County Historical Society

ARCH 5672: Historic Building Conservation (Instructor: Todd Grover)  Final Report and Poster

ANTH 8777: Master's Thesis (Advisor: Katherine Hayes)  Final Report

ARCH 3250: Community Design Practice Workshop (Instructor: James Wheeler)  Final Reports

SCAN 3504: Emigration, Immigration, Integration: The Nordic Experience (Instructor: Lena Norman)  (Report unavailable)

Administration Projects

Measuring Innovation Project Goal: Evaluate the impacts and outcomes of Carver County's continuous improvement and innovation programs. Specifically, the County is interested in methods for evaluating outcomes of LEAN/Kaizen events, explaining innovation outcomes to the public, and developing more intentional approaches to outcomes measurement going forward. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Administrative Services Department Project Lead: Nick Koktavy, Carver County

MBA 6220: Operations Management (Instructor: Scott Martens) Final Report: Compiled Report (Groups 1-9) Final Presentations: Group 1 (unavailable) | Group 2 | Group 3 | Group 4 | Group 5 | Group 6 | Group 7 | Group 8 | Group 9

PA 5311: Program Evaluation (Instructor: Jodi Sandfort)  Final Report and Presentation

Victoria Firefighter Recruitment/Retention and Staffing Model Study Project Goal: Review the City of Victoria's firefighter staffing model and identify options for meeting increased service needs that will result from anticipated future population growth. Sponsoring Agency: City of Victoria Project Lead: Laurie Hokkanen, City of VIctoria

PSY 5707: Personnel Psychology (Campbell and Ones) Final Report and Poster | Final Presentation

Implementation of GIS Tools Project Goal: Inform the City of Watertown about how GIS tools available through its partnership with the Carver County GIS Office can best be employed in the field to increase staff efficiency. Sponsoring Agency: City of Watertown Project Lead: Shane Fineran, City of Watertown

GIS 8990: Research Problems in GIS (Instructor: Dan Sward)

Sustainable Turf Management Project Goal: Explore best management practices that the City of Watertown can use to maintain playing field surfaces in a way that meets growing community demand for recreational fields, limits adverse impacts to the environment, and decreases long-term maintenance costs. Sponsoring Agency: City of Watertown Project Lead: Shane Fineran, City of Watertown

HORT 4062: Turfgrass Weed and Disease Science and HORT 4063: Turfgrass Science (Instructor: Eric Watkins)  Final Report and Presentation

Aquatic Invasive Species Program Evaluation  Project Goal: Identify evaluation approaches and methodologies Carver County can use to measure the effectiveness of and impacts of its Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program to inform future improvements to the program. Sponsoring Agency: Carver County Water Management Organization (WMO) Project Lead: Madeline Seveland, Carver County WMO

PA 5311: Program Evaluation (Leah G. Moses) Final Report + Logic Model + Poster

Evaluation of Intercultural Specialist Program Project Goal: To conduct a formative evaluation of the Intercultural Specialist program for Eastern Carver County School District Community Education. Sponsoring Agency: Eastern Carver County School District Community Education Project Lead: Jackie Johnston, Eastern Carver County School District

PUBH 7784: Public Health Administration and Policy Master's Project (Advisor: Zobeida Bonilla)   Final Report + Poster

2015–2016 Partner: Carver County

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RCP’s community partner for the 2015–2016 academic year was Carver County, located 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis. Participants in the year-long collaboration included four divisions at Carver County (Administrative Services, Planning and Water Management, Public Health, and Social Services), the Carver County Community Development Agency, SouthWest Transit, Eastern Carver County School District (ISD 112), the Carver County Historical Society, and the Cities of Victoria, Chaska, and Watertown.

Carver County is the least populated of the seven Twin CIties metro area counties, but it is also one of the state's (and the nation's) fastest-growing. Although the population is predominantly white, an increasing number of people of color are moving to the county, and a growing percentage of students speak a language other than English at home. Farming was the primary means of livelihood in Carver County for its first 100 years, and although farming is no longer the chief occupation, Carver County retains its rural character, and much of the land in the western portion of the county is still in agricultural production. In more recent decades, The county has seen an explosion of residential development in the Cities of Chaska (the county seat), Chanhassen, Waconia, Carver, and Victoria during the last few decades, and many residents of these communities commute to jobs in Minneapolis or its suburbs. Carver County also has a strong manufacturing and bioscience industry base, with major employers including Entegris, Rosemount, Supervalu, Lake Region Medical Manufacturing, Beckman Coulter, and General Mills. With its population expected to nearly double to more than 155,000 by 2040, Carver County faces both challenges and opportunities in the coming decades as it strives to become a more sustainable, resilient, and livable community.

RCP partnered with Carver County on 29 projects that were matched with 50 courses across 22 academic departments at the University of Minnesota, engaging more than 350 graduate, professional, and upper-division undergraduate students to work on the County's behalf. You can view a brief summary of the partnership and projects, or learn more about individual projects on the Carver County Projects page.

RCP-Carver County Partnership in the News:

RCP Recognized for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education

The Resilient Communities Project has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the MAGS/ETS Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education Award. Jointly sponsored by the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) and Educational Testing Service (ETS), this annual award is given to a MAGS member institution in recognition of outstanding contributions to domestic and international graduate education at both the graduate school and program level.

RCP was nominated for the award by Henning Schroeder, Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Minnesota. Schroeder commended the program as “a shining example of the great things our faculty, students, and staff can achieve when disciplinary boundaries disappear” and possibly “the gold standard for advancing community sustainability practices while incorporating community engagement into the fabric of any university.”

“The Resilient Communities Project is a model for promoting greater collaboration and engagement across disciplines,” added Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson, in a letter supporting the nomination. “[RCP’s] innovative approach not only provides sustainability solutions for our partner communities, but also enhances our curriculum with interdisciplinary methods that are helping our students to develop the knowledge, skills, and agility that they will need as tomorrow’s innovators, lifelong learners, and global citizens.”

RCP will receive the award at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools on April 16 in St. Louis. The award includes a certificate and a $2,500 prize that will be used to support the RCP program.

Past recipients of the MAGS/ETS Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education Award include Miami University’s Dublin School Leadership Program (2014), Loyola University Chicago’s Mastering The Humanities: Growing, Diversifying, and Sustaining Humanities Education program (2013), and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Transforming the Illinois Graduate Education Pathway program (2012).

Carver County Selected as 2015–2016 Community Partner

Contacts: Mike Greco, Resilient Communities Project, mgreco@umn.edu, 612-625-7501; Nick Koktavy, Carver County Projects and Communications Manager, nkoktavy@co.carver.mn.us, 952-361-1797

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/16/2015) — The University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is pleased to announce that Carver County has been selected as its partner community for the 2015–2016 academic year. The partnership will bring the expertise of the University and hundreds of graduate and professional students to sustainability-related projects identified by Carver County and its partners, which include the Carver County Community Development Agency, SouthWest Transit, Independent School District 112, and the Cities of Victoria, Chaska, and Watertown.

“Carver County and its partners are very pleased to be selected for this partnership with the University of Minnesota,” said Carver County Board Chair Randy Maluchnik. “The County’s proposal leverages long-standing relationships between partner agencies and communities in Carver County to address diverse challenges that result from the growth we are experiencing. The results University of Minnesota students will produce through this partnership will benefit our community for years to come.”

RCP organizes yearlong partnerships between the University of Minnesota and Minnesota communities. Each academic year, RCP chooses a city or county partner through a competitive request-for-proposal process, helps identify potential projects based on community-identified sustainability issues and needs, and matches those project needs with University of Minnesota courses.

The partnership provides the community with access to students from a wide range of programs and disciplines—from architecture, planning and engineering to business, environmental sciences and the humanities. Through work with RCP, the community is able to enhance its own capacity to advance sustainability. Students who participate in RCP projects benefit from real-world opportunities to apply their knowledge and training and bring energy, enthusiasm and innovative approaches to address local issues.

“We're very excited about our upcoming partnership with Carver County,” said RCP director and Humphrey School of Public Affairs associate professor Carissa Schively Slotterback. “The enthusiasm of staff from the County and its partner cities and organizations as well as their clear commitment to advancing sustainability and resilience will ensure a productive and enjoyable collaboration that will benefit Carver County and provide community-engaged learning opportunities for University of Minnesota students.”

Carver County’s winning proposal identifies 34 potential projects, including enhancing bike and pedestrian facilities near park-and-ride locations, creating safe routes to schools, providing school-based mental health programs, developing alternative energy sources, evaluating stormwater reuse opportunities, developing employment opportunities for ex-offenders, assessing the needs of adult learners, expanding school readiness and early childhood programs for high-risk populations, engaging with new immigrant groups and communities of color, crafting an eco-tourism marketing plan, exploring opportunities for preservation of a historic farmstead, and evaluating the County’s aquatic invasive species program.

Over the next few months, staff from RCP and from Carver County and its partners will begin to define the scope of the individual projects and match them with courses offered at the University in fall 2015 and spring 2016. RCP program manager Mike Greco will administer the partnership on behalf of the University, and Carver County planner Nate Kabat will coordinate the County’s participation in the program.

RCP is an initiative of the Sustainability Faculty Network at the University of Minnesota, with funding and administrative support provided by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. To learn more, visit rcp.umn.edu.

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About the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs: The University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) connects the resources of the University of Minnesota with the interests and needs of urban communities and the region. CURA pursues its urban and regional mission by facilitating and supporting connections between state and local governments, neighborhoods, and nonprofit organizations, and relevant resources at the University, including faculty and students from appropriate campuses, colleges, centers or departments. Learn more at cura.umn.edu.

About Carver County: Carver County is located in the southwest corner of the Twin Cities metro region. With a 2013 estimated population 95,463, Carver County is consistently among the fastest growing in the state. The County Board has defined Carver County’s mission as follows, “To meet the service requirements and special needs of our residents in a fiscally responsible and caring way. We will plan the County's growth to preserve its uniqueness and will encourage rural and urban compatibility. We will protect our history while planning for a dynamic future.” Learn more at www.co.carver.mn.us.

Fourth Annual Sustainable City Year Conference

The Fourth Annual Sustainable City Year Conference was hosted this year by the University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project. The conference was designed to meet the needs of both established programs patterned on the Sustainable City Year (SCY) model originally developed by the University of Oregon, and university representatives, city officials, and organizational partners interested in adopting and adapting the model to their home institutions and community contexts.

What Is the SCY Model?

The Sustainable City Year model is a catalytic learning model first developed at the University of Oregon that leverages existing courses at higher education institutions to work on applied community projects identified by community partners (i.e., a city, county, school district, or transit district) for an entire academic year. Some of the distinguishing features of the SCY model of engaged learning include the scale and intensity of the partnership, the place-based and multi-disciplinary nature of the program, and a focus on advancing local sustainability. The large-scale approach provides a wide range of benefits for students, faculty, universities, and communities.

The SCY model has been adopted by colleges and universities around the country, including the University of Minnesota, where the Resilient Communities Project (RCP) was launched in 2012 after staff attended the First Annual SCY Conference. Now in its third year of operation, RCP typically matches 15-30 community-identified projects with 30+ courses across dozens of departments and disciplines engaging 400+ students to work with a single community partner each year.

The SCY model has now been adopted and adapted by more than a dozen institutions of higher education across the United States and abroad.

Praise from Past Conference Attendees

"This was by far the most valuable conference I have attended. [SCY] really is a winning model, and can be replicated with very little resource investment. The conference provided our team all of the tools we needed to get our own program up and running, and establish buy-in among the campus and community. This conference was an absolute game changer for us."

Kelly Ellenburg of the Smart Communities Initiative, University of Tennessee

“Excellent event. It was a delight to be around so much enthusiasm and real-world impact. This is really a model of the kinds of programs we should all be doing more of. I can’t wait to start rolling things out. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

“I thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot from this conference, which was well-run from top to bottom.”

Conference Sponsors

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RCP Issues Request for Proposals for 2015-2016

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The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is now accepting proposals from cities and counties to be the community partner for 2015–2016. The partner community must support the effort through dedicated staff time and a local funding contribution. The selection process is competitive. The deadline for applications is 4:30 pm on February 13, 2015. The community partner for the 2015–2016 partnership year will be announced in March 2015.

Learn more, including how to apply >>

Kicking off the Rosemount Partnership

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Mayor Bill Droste welcomes guests to the September 19 RCP kickoff event at the Rosemount Community Center

BY MIKE GRECO

Only one month into the fall semester there is already an unseasonable chill in the air, but things are heating up in classrooms across the U of MN Twin Cities and Duluth campuses as more than 200 students in dozens of classes begin work on an impressive array of projects with the City of Rosemount, this year’s RCP partner community.

Today, Rosemount is a rapidly developing outer-ring suburb located 15 miles from the Twin Cities, but the city has a long and rich history. Settled by Scottish and Irish immigrants in the early 1850s, Rosemount organized as a township in 1858 and was incorporated as a city in 1974. Rosemount has a land area of nearly 36 square miles and is home to a mix of industry, commerce, agriculture, and residential development. With its population expected to double by 2040, Rosemount faces unique challenges and opportunities in the coming decades as it strives to become a more sustainable and resilient community.

In mid-September, Rosemount and RCP co-hosted an official kickoff event at the Rosemount Community Center to recognize the year-long partnership. More than 60 guests attended, included Mayor Bill Droste and city council members, state representative Anna Willis and state senator Greg Clausen, Dakota County planning director Kurt Chatfield, City staff, stakeholders from local businesses and community organizations, Rosemount residents, and U of MN faculty and students participating in RCP courses. Guests enjoyed food catered by Rosemount’s Rudy’s Redeye Grill, learned about the range of projects students and city staff will collaborate on this year, and had a chance to mingle and talk with other guests before and after the event.

This fall semester, RCP has matched 25 community-defined projects in Rosemount with more than 35 U of MN courses (view a complete list of projects and courses on our website). The projects are wide ranging and engage both undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of disciplines. Here are a few highlights:

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Adaptation. As a rapidly growing suburban community, Rosemount is conscious of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to prepare to adapt to a changing climate that is likely to produce more frequent severe rain events and place stress on infrastructure, environmental systems, and residents of the community. Working with city planner Jason Lindahl, a group of students in SUST 4004: Sustainable Communities (taught by lecturers Amir Nadav and Samantha Grover) will identify the major public and private sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Rosemount, establish a baseline for measuring future emissions in the community, and compile best practices from similar-sized suburban communities for reducing carbon and other greenhouse has emissions. Meanwhile, students in LAW 7012: Environmental Sustainability (taught by land use attorney Jean Coleman) will investigate potential local impacts of climate change in Rosemount, as well as specific regulatory and other strategies to reduce the community’s vulnerability to these impacts.

Daytime Staff at Rosemount Fire Department. Like many smaller and mid-sized communities in Minnesota, Rosemount depends largely on paid on-call volunteers to staff its fire department. Particularly during daytime hours, when volunteers may be at their full-time day jobs and unavailable to respond to a call, the fire department sometimes has to rely on neighboring communities’ fire departments to respond to emergency calls. How can the city attract more volunteers to serve their community during the day? In a project that is likely to be informative for many local communities in Minnesota who rely on volunteer fire fighters, students in HRIR 6301: Staffing, Training, and Development (taught by Dr. John Kammeyer-Mueller) and PSY 5707: Personnel Psychology (taught by Dr. Deniz Ones and Dr. John Campbell) will work with Rosemount Fire Chief Rick Schroeder to identify strategies to recruit and retain more on-call fire fighters during daytime hours.

Water Reuse and Conservation. Dwindling water resources are not just a concern in the western United States, but in Minnesota and much of the upper Midwest as well. In order to conserve water, Rosemount would like to learn about possible uses for storm water and treated wastewater for industry, irrigation, and other applications. Students in Dr. Matt Simcik’s PUBH 6132: Air, Water, and Health course will visit the Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant (which serves Rosemount and much of the south metro) and work with City Engineer and Public Works Director Andy Brotzler as part of their effort to provide Rosemount with practical ideas for water reuse and conservation. Meanwhile, students in LAW 7012: Environmental Sustainability will investigate some of the regulatory and other legal barriers to municipal water reuse and offer recommendations for how to address these obstacles.

Recreational Programming for Children’s Interaction with Nature. Recent studies by Richard Louv (author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder) and others have shown the beneficial effects of nature-based play for children, including improved social skills, problem-solving abilities, and interpersonal relationships, as well as reduced incidence of childhood obesity. Students in Dr. Tony Brown’s REC 3281: Research and Evaluation in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies course will work with Rosemount Parks Supervisor Tom Schuster to evaluate Rosemount’s current parks and recreation facilities with respect to the tenets of nature-based play. Another course at the University of Minnesota Duluth, ENED 4315: Operations & Management (taught by Dr. Ken Gilbertson), will make recommendations for how Rosemount can integrate nature-based play and environmental education into the parks and recreation system. In addition, students in LS 5100: Revitalizing Environmental Reform: Re-Imagining the Arts for Public Parks (taught by Roslye Ultan) will investigate opportunities for public art in Rosemount to inspire nature-based play and an appreciation for the natural world.

Cultural Integration. Like many suburban communities in Minnesota, Rosemount has a small but growing population of foreign-born residents from Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Russian republics, and the Middle East. City staff and elected officials recognize that current programs and services may not address the needs and interests of these new residents, and they would like to determine what can be done to make the community more inclusive. Working with Community Development Director Kim Lindquist and Recreation Supervisor Lisa Maurer, students in PA 5281: Immigrants, Urban Planning, and Policymaking (taught by Dr. Ryan Allen) will interview and survey local service providers and foreign-born residents to determine what programs, services, and activities are currently available in the Rosemount area to meet their specific needs and interests, as well as where gaps in services exist. Meanwhile, students in another course, PA 5253: Planning and Participation Processes (taught by Dr. Carissa Schively Slotterback), will develop a proposed community engagement initiative to engage a diverse range of residents, and build awareness of key City processes and functions.

Descriptions of all of Rosemount’s projects are available on the RCP website.

We’re excited to be working with the City of Rosemount, community partners, and students and faculty at the U of MN and look forward to a productive and rewarding partnership!

Mike Greco, AICP, is program manager of the Resilient Communities Project at the University of Minnesota

Rosemount elected officials, city staff and residents to join U of M faculty in launching year-long partnership aimed at educating students and boosting community resilience

Who: Rosemount elected officials, city staff and residents, along with University of Minnesota facultY
What: Kickoff event for the Resilient Communities Project-Rosemount
When: 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19
Where: Rosemount Community Center, 13885 South Robert Trail, Rosemount

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (9/18/14) – Rosemount elected officials, city staff and residents will join University of Minnesota faculty, students and academic leaders in a kickoff celebration event for the Resilient Communities Project (RCP), an initiative that will bring the expertise of hundreds of students and the University to sustainability-related projects identified by Rosemount officials.

The event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19 in the Banquet Hall at the Rosemount Community Center, 13885 S. Robert Trail.

RCP is an innovative and interdisciplinary program at the University of Minnesota. A unique community-university partnership, RCP helps communities address challenges and make progress on key local issues such as housing, public engagement, parks and open space, energy and transportation. RCP’s year-long partnership with Rosemount will utilize the broad capacity of faculty and students from across 11 University of Minnesota colleges and more than two dozen courses to contribute to sustainable solutions.

"We are excited to be part of this unique opportunity," said Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste.  "It connects U of M faculty, students, city staff, and in some cases citizens to address city problems and issues.  We hope to develop innovative solutions to community needs."

Mayor Droste added that "Rosemount has a long history of cooperation with the University in its operations of and planning for UMore park.  The benefits from the Resilient Communities Project will continue in that tradition."

Rosemount is the third city to partner with the U of M through the Resilient Communities Project, following Minnetonka and North St. Paul. At the conclusion of the partnership next spring, RCP will help the city of Rosemount create a strategy to evaluate and monitor ongoing sustainability efforts.

RCP is an initiative of the Sustainability Faculty Network at the University of Minnesota, with funding and administrative support provided by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and the Institute on the Environment (IonE). Visit www.rcp.umn.edu for further details.

Minnetonka Projects

Students and faculty on a field trip to a project site in Minnetonka
(Photo by Barrett Colombo, © The Regents of the University of Minnesota, 2013.

During the 2012–2013 academic year, RCP collaborated with the City of Minnetonka in Hennepin County to complete 14 projects that engaged 25 classes and more than 200 students across eight schools at the University of Minnesota. Summaries of the projects and links to final student reports and presentations (where available) are below.

Stormwater Management and Illicit Discharge Regulation

Project Description: In a community with abundant water resources, improving the landscape's resilience to stormwater surge and reducing illicit discharge are essential. This project included an audit of City of Minnetonka ordinances related to stormwater discharge. Just weeks after receiving the audit results, the City successfully presented the audit to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as evidence that its stormwater code met new illicit discharge standards. The audit also considered how the city could strengthen and integrate existing City stormwater management regulations, and streamline the stormwater permitting process to create a one-stop permit that satisfies both City and watershed district requirements. A second group of students conducted a design analysis of the Ridgedale Mall redevelopment site. The site presented unusual stormwater management issues, and the analysis identified specific interventions for reducing stormwater runoff and surface water pollution on the site.

Class: ARCH 8567: Building and Site Integration in Sustainable Design
Instructors: Richard Strong and Peter MacDonagh, School of Architecture
City Project Lead: Jo Colleran, Natural Resources Manager, City of Minnetonka
Student Project: Report

Class: LAW 7012: Land, Environment, and Energy Law Clinic
Instructor: Jean Coleman, Law School
City Project Lead: Jo Colleran, Natural Resources Manager, City of Minnetonka
Student Project
: Report

Density and Housing Options Study

Project Description: The City of Minnetonka was actively seeking opportunities and strategies to encourage development of a more diverse range of housing options for residents, with housing of various types, sizes, price points, and densities. Students researched local and national case studies, analyzed residential "market leakage" into neighboring communities, and evaluated alternatives such as smaller lots and new methods of subdivision. The project also included an audit of the City of Minnetonka’s zoning and subdivision codes, comprehensive plan, and other relevant policy documents to identify policies that might inhibit affordable and mid-priced housing, a broader range of housing types and sizes, and higher density/infill residential development in the community.

Class: PA 8203: Neighborhood Revitalization
Instructors: David Hollister and Lauren Martin, School of Social Work
City Project Lead: Loren Gordon, CIty Planner, City of Minnetonka
Student ProjectReport, Presentation + Poster

Class: PA 5212: Managing Urban Growth and Change
Instructor: Ed Goetz, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
City Project Lead: Loren Gordon, CIty Planner, City of Minnetonka
Student Project: Report + Presentation

Post-Development Critique

Project Description: The Minnetonka Planning Division routinely works with developers and other stakeholders to manage development projects in the community, some of which are initially contentious with neighbors who live nearby.  Objections to the projects range from concerns about density and traffic to potential negative impacts on natural resources or community character.  This project revisited three past developments--the Glen Lake Redevelopment Project, the Crest Ridge Corporate Center, and the Goodwill Industries Development--that were contentious at the time the projects were under review.  The goal was to determine, several years after development, if community goals were met, neighborhood concerns addressed, and whether developments remain controversial. In addition to providing answers to these questions, students made recommendations for how the city can enhance the public input process for future developments to ensure that the needs and concerns of both developers and residents are being considered.

Class: OLPD 5501: Principles and Methods of Evaluation
Instructor: Jean King, Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development
City Project Lead: Susan Thomas, Principal Planner, City of Minnetonka
Student Project: Evaluation plan and data collection for OLPD 8595

Class: OLPD 8595: Evaluation Problems
Instructor: Jean King, Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development
City Project Lead: Susan Thomas, Principal Planner, City of Minnetonka
Student Project: Report + Presentation

Water and Energy Conservation and Surface Water Education

Project Description: Many businesses and industries in Minnetonka use and discharge a significant amount of water and use large amounts of energy as part of their operations. This project developed education and outreach strategies that assist businesses in the community to address water and energy conservation, as well as surface water protection, through their operations and site management.  Students worked with Holaday Circuits, Inc., to develop a case study based upon a life cycle analysis of the business' water and energy use, and identified conservation strategies that could improve the company's bottom line. This case study was then used to develop a more general checklist for future business energy audits.  In collaboration with more than 10 Minnetonka-based businesses, the project also employed both ethnographic and survey methods to understand barriers and opportunities Minnetonka businesses face in pursuing strategies for improving water quality and conservation in their operations.

Class: ESPM 5606: Pollution Prevention: Principles, Technologies, and Practices
Instructor: Cindy McComas, Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering
City Project Lead: Jo Colleran, Natural Resources Manager, City of Minnetonka
Student ProjectEnergy Efficiency Checklist + Poster

Class: COMM 5110 Environmental Communication
Instructor: Mark Pedelty, Communication Studies
City Project Lead: Jo Colleran, Natural Resources Manager, City of Minnetonka
Student Project: Report

Conservation Development Standards

Project Description: Conservation development approaches encourage sustainable developments that protect natural environmental features, preserve open space, protect natural habitats for wildlife, and maintain rural character.  This project examined the City of Minnetonka's conservation development scorecard to assess its effectiveness in evaluating previous and proposed conservation developments.  The analysis found that the scorecard was influential in encouraging conservation strategies as part of development projects, and recommended strategies for using the scorecard to increase social acceptability of conservation development, as well as implementing the tool through the city's Planned Unit Development ordinance.

Class: ESPM 5242: Methods for Natural Resource and Environmental Policy
Instructor: Dennis Becker and Michael Kilgore, Forest Resources
City Project Lead: Susan Thomas, Principal Planner, and Jo Colleran, Natural Resources Manager, City of Minnetonka
Student Project: Report

Water Resources Prioritization Plan

Project DescriptionThe City of Minnetonka contains a large number of lakes, creeks, and wetlands.  However, the city has only limited financial resources to support preservation and restoration projects. This project developed a prioritization plan to guide such investment.  The project created and verified estimates of leaf litter nutrient inputs and nutrient and chloride surface transport within four priority watersheds in Minnetonka. These estimates of nutrient mass, flux, and transport were then used to model the feasibility and cost of mitigation actions for reducing nutrient levels in water bodies.  Several models indicated increasing the frequency of street sweeping would be the most cost-effective measure. As a result, the city is now considering how to direct resources to support  more frequent street sweeping along key roadways, and has added a requirement for regular street sweeping by the owner to the development agreement for a major redevelopment project at the Ridgedale Mall.

Class: ESPM 5295: GIS in Environmental Science and Management
Instructor: Paul Bolstad, Forest Resources
City Project Lead: Liz Stout, Water Resources Engineer, City of Minnetonka
Student ProjectReport + Presentation

Class: CE 5511: Urban Hydrology and Land Development
Instructor: John Gulliver, Civil Engineering
City Project Lead: Liz Stout, Water Resources Engineer, City of Minnetonka
Student Project:

Neighborhood Identities and Resident Engagement

Project DescriptionMinnetonka has many residential neighborhoods, but neighborhood representation and participation varies widely--from a few formal neighborhood organizations to numerous informal associations and, in many cases, no organizational representation at all.  This project surveyed existing neighborhood associations in Minnetonka to help the city understand what they do and how they function, and researched local and national models for facilitating and supporting the creation of neighborhood organizations. The project also used design thinking to examine how residents currently envision community in Minnetonka.  This approach suggested that, because residents socially engage based on mutual interests and activities--such as clubs, schools, and recreational activities--strengthening social ties and community by creating geographically-defined neighborhoods might not be as effective as enhancing or augmenting existing social networks.

Class: LS 5100: Design Thinking for Action
Instructor: Virajita Singh, College of Design
City Project Lead: Jeff Thomson, Associate Planner, City of Minnetonka
Student Project:

Class: PA 8203: Neighborhood Revitalization
Instructors: David Hollister and Lauren Martin, College of Education and Human Development
City Project Lead: Jeff Thomson, Associate Planner, City of Minnetonka
Student ProjectReport, Presentation, and Poster

Housing and Aging in Place

Project Description: Like many cities in Minnesota, Minnetonka's population is rapidly aging. Many residents have lived in Minnetonka for all or the majority of their lives, and wish to remain in their homes--or at least in the city--as they age. Students investigated opportunities for the city to assist residents to age in place through a broader range of housing options, more compact urban design, better transportation options, and improved access to social services and other assistance.

Class: HSG 5463/PA 5261: Housing Policy
City Project Lead: Loren Gordon, Planner, City of Minnetonka
Instructor: Jeff Crump, Design, Housing and Apparel
Student Project: Report Unavailable

Parking and Land Use

Project DescriptionThe City of Minnetonka’s zoning ordinance establishes minimum parking standards for land uses, which can often result in excess parking that reduces land values, creates increased stormwater runoff, and inhibits infill and compact development. This project reviewed the city’s existing parking regulations, explored innovative parking management strategies in the literature, reviewed local and national best practices, computed average parking demand, and recommended updates to the city’s parking ordinance. The project also included a GIS analysis for Minnetonka of the number of jobs vs. number of parking spaces provided by businesses in several key employment/village center locations and calculated the peak parking demand in these locations to inform updates to the parking code.

Class: GEOG 5564: Urban GIS
Instructor: Jeff Matson, Geography
City Project Lead: Susan Thomas, Principal Planner, City of Minnetonka
Student Project: Report + Poster

Class: PA 8202: Networks and Places
Instructor: Jason Cao, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
City Project Lead: Susan Thomas, Principal Planner, City of Minnetonka
Student Project:

Transportation Demand Management Policy

Project DescriptionMinnetonka has required transportation demand management (TDM) plans for large development projects within the I-394 corridor for many years. However, these plans are not required in other areas of the city. This project evaluated the city's existing TDM ordinance requirements and reviewed TDM ordinances and best practices in comparable suburban communities nationwide. To understand the considerations involved with implementing TDM plans, students also interviewed key stakeholders, including city planners and engineers in neighboring communities, businesses in Minnetonka that currently have TDM plans, and 494 Commuter Services. The students then recommended an innovative two-phase TDM policy for the city of Minnetonka to reduce peak-hour demand.

Class: PA 8081: Land Use and Transportation Capstone Workshop
Instructor: Mike Greco, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
City Project Lead: Jeff Thomson, Associate Planner, City of Minnetonka
Student Project: Report + Presentation

Mid-Priced Housing

Project Description: According to a recent Opportunity Cities study of Minnetonka conducted by the Urban Land Institute/Regional Council of Mayors (ULI/RCM), Minnetonka does well meeting its regional affordable housing targets and has an adequate supply of higher-end housing. However, the city also has an aging housing stock and a lack of mid-priced housing that might appeal to empty-nesters looking to downsize or young families and professionals interested in move-up housing. City staff wanted to better understand the market for mid-priced housing in Minnetonka and neighboring communities to inform future efforts to increase the amount of mid-priced housing in the city.  Using American Community Survey data, foreclosure data, market price decline data, and other available data, student teams conducted a GIS housing market analysis of Minnetonka and surrounding communities where residential “market leakage” from Minnetonka is occurring.

Class: HSG 5464: Understanding Housing Assessment and Analysis
Instructor: Jessica Deegan, Design, Housing and Apparel
City Project Lead: Elise Durbin, Community Development Supervisor, City of Minnetonka
Student Project:

Green Roofs and Rooftop Gardens

Project Description: Minnetonka is interested in promoting green roof or rooftop garden projects, but staff wanted to understand perceptions and attitudes among Minnetonka residents, developers, and community leaders that might facilitate or hinder such efforts. This project evaluated options for encouraging rooftop gardens and green roofs in residential and commercial developments.  Students in one course identified innovative best practices for implementing green roofs in the context of a suburban community located in a northern climate through both policy changes and city or private initiatives. Students in another course examined the biophysical aspects of implementing green roofs in Minnetonka, and undertook an ethnographic analysis to understand the social context around green roofs in the community.

Class: AGRO 5321: Ecology of Agricultural Systems
Instructor: Nick Jordan, Agroecology, Agronomy, & Plant Genetics
City Project Lead: Jo Colleran, Natural Resources Manager, City of Minnetonka

Class: PA 5242: Environmental Planning, Policy, and Decision Making
Instructor: Carissa Schively Slotterback, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
City Project Lead: Jo Colleran, Natural Resources Manager, City of Minnetonka

Student Project: AGRO 5321 + PA 5242 Combined Final Report + Presentation + Poster

Transit-Oriented Zoning

Project Description: Minnetonka is beginning station-area planning efforts for two proposed stations along the Southwest Light-Rail Transit Line and has just participated a sector analysis of public transit in the city, and was interested in developing transit‐oriented zoning district models for the major station areas and future transit hubs in the community. Students developed detailed policy-oriented case studies of TOD districts in similar cities, including how the municipality was involved in (re)development projects; recommended model districts for station areas and transit hubs in Minnetonka, including appropriate transportation connections, land-use mixes, zoning regulations, and parking requirements; and recommended guidelines for the city’s financial and policy role in future redevelopment projects in these locations.

Class: PA 8081: Land Use and Transportation Capstone Workshop
Instructor: Mike Greco, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
City Project Lead: Loren Gordon, Planner, City of Minnetonka
Student Project: Report + Presentation + Poster

Housing Program Evaluation

Project Description: The Minnetonka Home Enhancement Program (MHEP) is a housing rehabilitation program that was established in 2011 to assist low- to medium-income residents to make improvements to their homes. Since the beginning of MHEP, only one housing rehabilitation loan has been executed. Students used a program evaluation approach that included surveys and phone interviews with MHEP applicants to determine why the program was not being fully utilized. Based on this analysis, the students provided recommendations related to program promotion, administration, and logistics.

Class: OLPD 8595: Evaluation Problems
Instructor: Jean King; Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development
City Project Lead: Elise Durbin, Community Development Supervisor, City of Minnetonka
Student Project: Report

2014–2015 Partner: Rosemount

Photo of Rosemount

RCP’s community partner for the 2014-2015 academic year was the City of Rosemount, located in Dakota County. Today Rosemount is a rapidly developing outer-ring suburb located only 15 miles from the Twin Cities, but the city has a long, rich history and retains a small-town atmosphere. Settled by Scottish and Irish immigrants in the early 1850s, Rosemount organized as a township in 1858 and was incorporated as a city in 1974. During World War II, nearly 15% of Rosemount's land area was acquired by the federal government as the site for an ordnance works plant that operated for only a few months before the war ended. Today, that land is owned by the University of Minnesota and is known as UMore Park, the proposed site of a future sustainable community. With a land area of nearly 36 square miles, Rosemount is home to industry, commerce, agriculture, and a rapidly growing residential community. With its population expected to double by 2040, Rosemount faces both challenges and opportunities in the coming decades as it strives to become a more sustainable and resilient community.

RCP partnered with Rosemount on 29 projects that engaged more than 400 students in dozens of courses from across the University of Minnesota. You can view a summary of the partnership and projects, visit the Rosemount Projects page to learn more about individual projects, or download the RCP-Rosemount Partnership Annual Report.

RCP–Rosemount Partnership in the News:

Rosemount Projects

For the 2014-2015 academic year, RCP partnered with the City of Rosemount on 29 projects that engaged 45 courses across 18 departments and 11 colleges at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Duluth campuses, and provided hands-on, applied research opportunities to more than 400 graduate and undergraduate students. Descriptions of the projects, as well as the resulting student work, are listed below, and are summarized in the RCP-Rosemount Partnership Annual Report.

Housing, Transportation and Land Use Projects

Private Student Housing for DCTC: Investigate options for private student housing for Dakota County Technical College students. 
Project Lead: Eric Zweber, Senior Planner, City of Rosemount

HSG 4461: Housing Development and Management (Dr. Lyn Bruin and Dr. Becky Yust)

Akron Flats: Proposal and Poster
Callan Circle: Proposal and Poster

Non-Motorized Transportation Assessment: Evaluate the impact of non-motorized transportation plans and investments in Rosemount and recommend strategies to increase biking and walking. 
Project Lead: Jason Lindahl, Planner, City of Rosemount

PA 5311: Program Evaluation (Dr. Hanife Cakici and Jodi Sandfort), Report

Travel Shed Analysis: Conduct a travel shed analysis of where Rosemount residents and employees work and live that can inform future transit and transportation planning, and provide recommendations for increasing transit use. 
Project Lead: Eric Zweber, Senior Planner, City of Rosemount

PA 8202: Networks and Places (Dr. Yingling Fan). Student Project: Posters

GEOG 5564: Urban Geographic Information Science and Analysis (Jeff Matson). Student Project: Report and Poster

Community Gathering Spaces: Research the characteristics of place-making in a suburban setting and identify opportunities for place-making through redesign or redevelopment. 
Project Lead: Dan Schultz, Parks and Recreation Director, City of Rosemount

LS 5100: Revitalizing Environmental Reform: Re-Imagining the Arts for Public Parks (Dr. Roslye Ultan). Student Projects: Report

URB 3751: Understanding the Urban Environment (Paula Pentel). Student Projects: Posters and Presentations

 

Communications and Public Engagement Projects

Neighborhood Cohesion: Identify strategies to support healthy neighborhood cohesion among residents, as well as integration of neighborhoods into the larger Rosemount community. 
Project Lead: Alan Cox, Communications Coordinator, City of Rosemount

SW 8551: Advanced Community Practice: Assessment, Organizing, and Advocacy (Liz Lightfoot)  New Immigrants Report  |  Senior Residents Report  |  Rosemount Woods Report

Homeowner Association Collaboration: Identify opportunities for collaboration and partnership with homeowners associations to provide public benefit and improved services. 
Project Lead: Christine Watson, Public Works Coordinator, City of Rosemount

LAW 7750: Community Practice and Policy Development (Dr. Nancy Cook) Report

PA 8081: Public/Private Partnerships (Jim Westcott and Kevin Gerdes)  Report, Presentation, and Handout

Resident Preferences and Community Amenity Capital Planning: Identify strategies for publicizing existing community amenities and engaging residents in future capital improvement planning.
Project Lead: Tom Schuster, Parks Supervisor, City of Rosemount

PA 5145: Civic Participation in Public Affairs (Dr. Kathy Quick) Report

Cultural Integration: Inventory, evaluate, and identify gaps in services and programs geared toward new immigrant groups in Rosemount. 
Project Lead: Lisa Maurer, Recreation Supervisor, City of Rosemount

PA 5281: Immigrants, Urban Planning, and Policymaking (Dr. Ryan Allen) Report

SW 8551: Advanced Community Practice: Assessment, Organizing, and Advocacy (Liz Lightfoot). Student ProjectsNew Immigrants Report  |  Senior Residents Report  |  Rosemount Woods Report

Comprehensive Planning Public Engagement Process: Develop a proposal for a broadly inclusive public engagement process for Rosemount's upcoming 2040 Comprehensive Plan update.

PA 5253: Planning and Participation Processes (Dr. Carissa Schively Slotterback) Learn, Participate, Lead Proposal and Presentation | MyRosemount Proposal and Presentation | PowerUp 2018 Proposal and Presentation

 

Youth Wellness Projects

Safe Youth Driving Behavior: Investigate successful programs and partnerships to reduce teen traffic accident risks. 
Project Lead: Chad Rosa, Police Officer, City of Rosemount

YOST 5032: Adolescent and Youth Development for Youthworkers (Dr. Ross VeLure-Roholt) Report and Poster

Healthy and Safe Youth Behavior: Conduct a program inventory, evaluation, and gap analysis of mental health services and substance education and prevention programs that serve youth. 
Project Lead: Chad Rosa, Police Officer, City of Rosemount

YOST 5032: Adolescent and Youth Development for Youthworkers (Dr. Ross VeLure-Roholt) Report and Poster

 

City Administration Projects

Daytime Staffing at Fire Department: Develop a strategic plan to increase the amount of on-call firefighters available during work week hours. 
Project Lead: Rick Schroeder, Fire Chief, City of Rosemount

HRIR 6301: Staffing, Training, and Development (Dr. John Kammeyer-Mueller) Report

PSY 5707: Personnel Psychology (Dr. Deniz Ones and Dr. John Campbell) and PSY 5708: Organizational Psychology (Dr. Aaron Schmidt)  Report and Poster

Employee Stress and Wellness Programming: Assess the health and wellness issues that are most prevalent for Rosemount city employees and provide recommendations for a comprehensive wellness program. 
Project Lead: Emmy Foster, Assistant City Administrator, City of Rosemount

PSY 3960: Stress & Trauma (Dr. Patricia Frazier) Presentation

 

Parks, Open Space, and Recreation Projects

Recreational Programming for Children’s Interaction with Nature: Assess opportunities for nature-based recreation and play, and recommend improvements to park and recreation systems to provide more nature-based opportunities for children. 
Project Lead: Tom Schuster, Parks Supervisor, City of Rosemount

REC 3281: Research and Evaluation in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies (Dr. Tony Brown) Group 1 Report and Presentation | Group 2 Video

LS 5100: Revitalizing Environmental Reform: Re-Imagining the Arts for Public Parks (Dr. Roslye Ultan) Report

EnEd 4315: Operations & Management (Dr. Ken Gilbertson) (UM Duluth Campus) Report and Presentation

Recreational Opportunities for Underserved Populations: Evaluate how well current recreational offerings meet the needs of underserved populations (people with disabilities, seniors, new immigrants) and recommend improvements to better serve the needs of these groups. 
Project Lead: Lacelle Cordes, Recreation Supervisor, City of Rosemount

PA 5281: Immigrants, Urban Planning, and Policymaking (Dr. Ryan Allen) Immigrant Resident Needs Assessment Report

REC 3281: Research and Evaluation in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies (Dr. Tony Brown) Presentation

EnEd 4315: Operations & Management (Dr. Ken Gilbertson) (UM Duluth Campus) Report and Presentation

Community Gardens: Assess Rosemount’s existing community gardening program and recommend programmatic changes to improve gardeners’ success, reduce the administrative burden on staff, and balance the use of public spaces for gardening against other recreational uses and needs. 
Project Lead: Tom Schuster, Parks Supervisor, City of Rosemount

PA 5311: Program Evaluation (Dr. Hanife Cakici and Jodi Sandfort) Community Garden Program Evaluation Plan

Mississippi Riverfront Greenway Restoration: Evaluate existing restoration activities in the Mississippi River Critical Area Corridor and recommend an overall restoration strategy or plan that builds on these efforts and incorporates additional public access opportunities. 
Project Lead: Eric Zweber, Senior Planner, City of Rosemount

HORT 5071: Ecological Restoration (Dr. Susan Galatowitsch) Presentation and Site Restoration Plans

Turf Management and Athletic Stadium Turf Options: Identify strategies or opportunities to reduce long-term turf and landscaping maintenance costs; analyze the lifecycle costs of using synthetic turf versus natural turf grass on athletic fields.
Project Lead: Jim Koslowski, Public Works Supervisor, City of Rosemount; and Tom Schuster, Parks Supervisor, City of Rosemount

HORT 4061: Turfgrass Management (Dr. Eric Watkins) Final Report  |  Student Videos

Invasive Species Management and Environmental Education
Project Lead: Tom Schuster, Parks Supervisor, City of Rosemount

EnEd 5325: Sustainability Issues Investigation (Ken Gilbertson, UMD) Report, Presentation, and Poster

 

Climate, Energy, and Green Technology Projects

Alternative Sources of Energy: Assess and make recommendations for the use of solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources to power municipal facilities. 
Project Lead: Christine Watson, Public Works Coordinator, City of Rosemount

PA 5242: Environmental Planning, Policy, and Decision Making (Carissa Schively Slotterback) Report and Presentation

Climate Adaptation: Identify potential local impacts of climate change in Rosemount, as well as specific strategies to reduce the community’s vulnerability to these impacts, including an education and outreach campaign. 
Project Lead: Jason Lindahl, Planner, City of Rosemount

LAW 7012: Environmental Sustainability: Land Use and Water Policy (Jean Coleman) Report and Presentation

OLPD 5204: Designing the Adult Education Program (Catherine Twohig) Report and Poster

PA 5242: Environmental Planning, Policy, and DM (Carissa Schively Slotterback) Report and Presentation

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Study: Develop a climate action plan that identifies specific strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout the community.
Project Lead: Jason Lindahl, Planner, City of Rosemount

SUST 4004: Sustainable Communities (Amir Nadav and Samantha Grover) Report, Presentation, and Poster

PA 4790/5790: Sustainable Infrastructure and Cities (Anu Ramaswami) Memo and Presentation

OLPD 5204: Designing the Adult Education Program (Catherine Twohig) Reportand Poster

SUST 4004: Sustainable Cities (Julia Nerbonne) Report and Presentation

 

Water Management Projects

Storm Water Management: Identify opportunities or design strategies for storm water infiltration that balance aesthetics and functionality, reduce long-term maintenance costs, manage winter snow melt, and provide opportunities for other passive uses.
Project Lead: Andy Brotzler, Public Works Director/City Engineer, City of Rosemount

PA 5242: Environmental Planning, Policy, and Decision Making (Carissa Schively Slotterback) Report and Presentation

Water Reuse and Conservation: Investigate the feasibility of reusing storm water or treated effluent for irrigation, industrial applications, or other uses. 
Project Lead: Andy Brotzler, Public Works Director/City Engineer, City of Rosemount

PUBH 6132: Air, Water, and Health (Matt Simcik) Report and Presentation

LAW 7012: Environmental Sustainability: Land Use and Water Policy (Jean Coleman) Report and Presentation

OLPD 5204: Designing the Adult Education Program (Catherine Twohig) Report

 

Economic Development Projects

Asset-Based Community Development
Project Lead: Kim Lindquist, Community Development Director, City of Rosemount

PA 5512: Workforce and Economic Development (Dr. Brent Hales) Report and Presentation

Analysis of Dakota County Business Clusters: Analyze existing business clusters in Rosemount and Dakota County, identify opportunities for synergies between existing businesses and clusters, and create a marketing strategy to attract or grow synergistic businesses. 
Project Lead: Kim Lindquist, Community Development Director, City of Rosemount

PA 5590: Topics in Economic and Community Development (Lee Munnich) Report and Presentation

Eco-Green Business Park: Explore opportunities for attracting green businesses and encouraging adoption of green building/manufacturing standards for a future green business park in Rosemount.
Project Lead: Kim Lindquist, Community Development Director, City of Rosemount

MBA 6504: Carlson Consulting Enterprise (Toby Nord) Report

PA 5242: Environmental Planning, Policy, and Decision Making (Dr. Carissa Schively Slotterback) Report and Presentation

PA 5512: Workforce and Economic Development (Dr. Brent Hales) Report and Presentation

Urban Agriculture: Explore opportunities to capitalize on the existing local agricultural economy in Rosemount by supporting locally grown food and value-added agribusinesses. 
Project Lead: Eric Zweber, Senior Planner, City of Rosemount
UMN Courses:

SUST 4004: Sustainable Communities (Samantha Grover and Amir Nadav) Food Producers Final Report and Presentation | Wholesale Food Consumers Final Report and Presentation

PA 5242: Environmental Planning, Policy, and Decision Making (Carissa Schively Slotterback) Report, Presentation, and Poster

Rosemount Selected as 2014-2015 Community Partner

Contacts: Mike Greco, Resilient Communities Project, mgreco@umn.edu, 612-625-7501; Alan Cox, City of Rosemount, alan.cox@ci.rosemount.mn.us, 651-322-2078

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/26/2014) — The University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project is pleased to announce that the city of Rosemount has been selected as its partner community for the 2014–2015 academic year. The partnership will bring the expertise of hundreds of graduate students and the University to sustainability-related projects identified by Rosemount city staff and community partners.

“As we plan for Rosemount’s future, it’s a top goal of the City Council to work toward the community’s environmental, financial, and cultural health,” said Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste. “It will be a great advantage to consult with the University of Minnesota on ways to make Rosemount a more sustainable community for our growing and diverse population.”

RCP organizes yearlong partnerships between the University of Minnesota and Minnesota communities. Each academic year, RCP chooses a community partner through a competitive request-for-proposal process, helps identify potential projects based on community-identified sustainability issues and needs, and matches the community’s project needs with University of Minnesota courses.

The program was launched during the 2013–2014 school year, when RCP worked with Minnetonka on 14 projects that engaged 25 classes and more than 200 students across eight colleges at the University of Minnesota. Student work helped the city to advance initiatives to reduce phosphorous and sediment pollution in local lakes and rivers, evaluate and improve local housing assistance programs, plan for transit-oriented development around future light-rail stations, reduce traffic congestion, and increase engagement with local residents. RCP is concluding its current academic year partnership with North St. Paul, which has matched more than 40 courses and 300 students with 17 projects, from implementing a “living streets” policy and creating environmental education programming for local parks to helping residents age in place and promoting redevelopment and pedestrian improvements in the downtown business district.

The partnership provides the community with access to students from a wide range of programs and disciplines—from architecture, planning and engineering to business, environmental sciences and the humanities. Through work with RCP, the community is able to enhance its own capacity to advance sustainability. Students who participate in RCP projects benefit from real-world opportunities to apply their knowledge and training and bring energy, enthusiasm and innovative approaches to address local issues.

“We are looking forward to working with Rosemount as our next community partner,” said RCP director and Humphrey School of Public Affairs associate professor Carissa Schively Slotterback. “The City’s proposal showed a clear commitment to advancing sustainability and resilience and outlined a wide range of projects that will provide tremendous community-engaged learning opportunities for University of Minnesota students.”

Rosemount’s winning proposal identifies 40 projects for which the city would like assistance, including affordable and multigenerational housing, neighborhood and resident engagement, recreational programming for youth, services for new immigrant communities, open space restoration, turf management, community gardens, public art, employee wellness and staffing, alternative and renewable energy, climate adaptation, energy and water conservation, storm water management, business clustering and economic development, green business parks, and transportation planning.

Staff from RCP and Rosemount will begin working this spring to define the scope of the projects and match them with courses offered at the University in fall 2014 and spring 2015. RCP program manager Mike Greco will administer the partnership on behalf of the University, and Rosemount community development director Kim Lindquist will coordinate the city’s participation in the program.

RCP is an initiative of the Sustainability Faculty Network at the University of Minnesota, with funding and administrative support provided by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs and the Institute on the Environment. To learn more, visit rcp.umn.edu.

About the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs: The University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) connects the resources of the University of Minnesota with the interests and needs of urban communities and the region. CURA pursues its urban and regional mission by facilitating and supporting connections between state and local governments, neighborhoods, and nonprofit organizations, and relevant resources at the University, including faculty and students from appropriate campuses, colleges, centers or departments. Learn more at www.cura.umn.edu.

About the Institute on the Environment: The University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment discovers solutions to Earth’s most pressing environmental problems by conducting transformative research, developing the next generation of global leaders and building world-changing partnerships. Learn more at www.environment.umn.edu.

About Rosemount: The city of Rosemount is 15 miles south of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Founded as a township on the day in 1858 when Minnesota became a state, the city has an estimated population of nearly 23,000, up 55 percent since 2000. With land area of nearly 36 square miles, Rosemount residents enjoy the advantages of living in a community with both small town and large metropolitan atmospheres. Unusual for a city of its size, Rosemount combines industry and agriculture with a rapidly growing residential community providing an excellent environment in which to live and work. Visit www.ci.rosemount.mn.us to learn more.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match!

ValentineBY CAROL HEJL

February 14 is a day to celebrate relationships, and also just so happens to be the deadline to submit applications for the 2014–2015 Resilient Communities Project partnership! RCP serves as a matchmaker between a community’s projects and various departments and resources at the University of Minnesota.  What’s the result? A fruitful and collaborative relationship! We help facilitate significant progress and infuse energy into a community’s efforts toward sustainability and resilience. Just ask Minnetonka and North Saint Paul.

There are a number of promising eligible partners for our next collaboration, and we look forward to reviewing their proposals. Who will be the lucky community chosen for the next collaboration? Stay tuned—we will be announcing our partner community in March!

Carol Hejl is Program Assistant for the Resilient Communities Project and a student in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

RCP by the numbers

“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”  --Albert Einstein

As fall semester 2013 is wrapping up, we are pleased to share an update on our partnership with North St. Paul.  We focus here on numbers to help illustrate the breadth and impacts of our partnership for the community, students, faculty, and the University of Minnesota.  Here are some quick stats that reflect what RCP has been up to over the past few months:

  •  In Fall 2013, we worked on 14 projects in North St. Paul, drawing on student and faculty expertise in 20 courses.
  • These courses provided opportunities for engagement in real-world sustainability projects for students in 10 departments located in eight colleges across the University of Minnesota, including a project with students from the Duluth campus.
  • These courses engaged 199 students and 11 faculty in direct and collaborative community engagement.

Even a quick look at the projects and courses listed on our website suggests the wide disciplinary and topical coverage of our work.  From graphic design students working on community branding to environmental policy students working on green energy, students were able to engage with priority community issues and gain valuable experience that complemented their coursework.

We’ve also been busy outside of the classroom. Over the past few months, RCP staff have attended conferences, trainings, and workshops and have presented to national audiences, including at the following conferences:  Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference in Nashville, Imagining America conference in Syracuse, and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Administrators’ conference in Columbus.. Additional local venues include the Upper Midwest Planning Conference, Sensible Land Use Coalition, Regional Council of Mayors staff group, and Housing Collaborative Institute.  The media has covered our partnership four times in fall 2013.

 

Fall 2013 Open House in North St. Paul

BY NANCY FERBER

RCP 2013 fall open house

Happy November!

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who came out to our fall 2013 Open House in North St. Paul on October 17th. What a great turn out! We were very excited to see so many residents, families, business owners, City staff and interested folks stop by and have conversations with RCP students faculty. Part of the mission of the Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is to facilitate these conversations, offering a chance for interaction around key community priorities and sustainable and resilient solutions.  The integration of the knowledge of community members, students, and faculty ensures that the project outcomes will be relevant and have the potential for long-lasting impacts.

The open house was designed as an opportunity for community members in North St. Paul to learn about projects underway, as well as chance for students to solicit some feedback relative to their work for these projects. Information about some of the 2013-2014 projects was displayed on posters around the room. About half of the 21 projects proposed by the City of North St. Paul have been matched with University of Minnesota courses this semester. Most of the remaining projects will be linked to courses coming up in the spring term. One of the projects that received the most interest from attendees was the Emerald Ash Borer project. Students in the FR 4501/5501 Urban Forestry – Biology and Management course will work on an Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan,  so please stay tuned!

Deb Lawton’s GDES 3352 Identity and Symbols class had their graphic design work on display and handed out surveys to vote on a new city logo. The logos are informed by students’ research on community priorities and identities and a few incorporate the iconic North St. Paul snowman.  The students are still soliciting feedback on their designs. It’s not too late to send them your thoughts and pick your favorite logos!

Students in Bob Streetar’s PA 5511 Community Economic Development course also soliciting comments. Students asked North St. Paul community members what they liked the most about the retail environment in North St Paul, as well as what might be lacking and one word they would use to describe the City. Ideas were posted up on the wall and will be prioritized and incorporated into a report on  Downtown Revitalization Strategies.

Economic Development Brainstorming Economic Development Brainstorming

A big thank you to the folks who helped make this event a success!   Thanks to residents who came out to meet students, the Community Center for donating 2 memberships to the fitness center for our raffle and providing a great venue.  Thanks also to North St. Paul staff for logistical support and spreading the word about this great  event. It’s exciting to see this projects underway, and there are lots of great findings and research to come!

Nancy Ferber is a program assistant with the Resilient Communities Project and graduate student in the Urban and Regional Planning Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

Kicking off the North St. Paul Partnership

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

RCP Issues Request for Proposals for 2014-2015

RCPWebBanner.jpg

The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is now accepting proposals from cities and counties to be the community partner for 2014–2015. The partner community must support the effort through dedicated staff time and a local funding contribution. The selection process is competitive. The deadline for applications is 4:30 pm on February 14, 2014. A community partner for the 2014–2015 partnership year will be announced in March 2014.

Learn more, including how to apply >>

Reflecting on the Resilient Communities Project Year 1

BY CARISSA SCHIVELY SLOTTERBACK

As we move into our second year of the Resilient Communities Project (RCP), it is exciting to think about all that we have been able to accomplish since we started RCP a little more than one year ago. While a bit outside of our modest Minnesotan comfort zone, we want to share a few of our successes.

First, and absolutely critical to our ability to get off the ground so quickly, was our partnership with the City of Minnetonka. Based on big aspirations and strong social capital among all, Minnetonka jumped into a partnership with RCP, developing a list of local priorities and pulling together a strong and diverse base of city staff. In our first year, we worked on 14 local projects in 25 U of M courses in eight colleges. Across these courses, we engaged hundreds of students in addressing critical sustainability issues. Projects ranged from alternative stormwater designs for Ridgedale Mall to an exploration of neighborhood identities. Students’ analyses revealed opportunities to save City resources through increased street sweeping to protect water quality. Their work also pointed to strategies to increase the City’s competitiveness in the mid-priced housing market and foster aging in place, positioning Minnetonka to proactively respond to changing demographics. Students explored transportation demand and redevelopment impacts associated with the planned Southwest Light Rail line, and also highlighted innovative practices related to green roofs, water and energy conservation, parking, and conservation development.

Second, we helped to advance the conversation about sustainability education at the University of Minnesota. As an initiative of the Sustainability Faculty Network, RCP serves as a highly visible example of how sustainability can be integrated across the curriculum. Further, RCP’s success, even as an untested model, to achieve broad engagement of courses, colleges, faculty, and students is a testament to the very high level of interest in sustainability across campus. In addition to advancing a new model of sustainability education, we also believe that RCP offers an innovation, or at least an evolution, in the way that we do public engagement in universities. RCP relies on a deeply collaborative model that facilitates sustained engagement in the partner community. By working intensely with the community for an entire year, we are able to develop relationships among all involved. We are able to build long-term capacity for work on sustainability and long-term connections that will benefit local staff, as well as faculty and students at the university, for years to come. Our approach to engagement also differs in that we see our role as going beyond unbiased matchmaker. We are not wholly objective, as we are driven to advance the very best and most current sustainability solutions, engaging faculty innovators, drawing on knowledge from multiple disciplines, and facilitating projects that advance the practice of sustainability.

We are excited to kick off our partnership with the City of North St. Paul this week. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we introduce our new partner community and the many sustainability projects that we’ll be working on this academic year.

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

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North St. Paul Projects

Students hosting a focus group with seniors in North St. Paul
Students hosting a focus group with senior residents about aging in place in North St. Paul

For the 2013-2014 academic year, RCP partnered with the City of North St. Paul on 16 projects that engaged 35 courses across 11 colleges at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Duluth campuses, and provided hands-on, applied research opportunities to more than 300 graduate and undergraduate students. Descriptions of the projects, as well as the resulting student work, are listed below.

Live/Work Housing

Project Description: A recent Redevelopment Master Plan for North Saint Paul identified live/work housing as a unique strategy for residential development on the edge of downtown. This type of housing would include both living units and workspace for artisans/craftspeople to pursue their small business or entrepreneurial endeavors, and would help fit the city’s traditional image as a working class community that supports small business enterprises. The goal of this project was to determine the potential of this housing option in North Saint Paul as a means of enhancing livability, creating jobs, promoting equitable economic development, and increasing housing density, and to identify implementation steps for making it happen. Teams of students from a housing studies course prepared development proposals for live/work housing projects, while a team of students in urban planning focused on recommended policy changes to promote live/work housing.

Class: HSG 4461: Housing Development and Management
InstructorsBecky Yust and Lyn Bruin (College of Design)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectsGroup 1 Report and Poster  |  Group 2 Report and Poster  |  Group 3 Report and Poster  |  Group 4 Report and Poster

Class: PA 5261: Housing Policy
InstructorEdward Goetz (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectReport and Presentation

Living Streets and Capital Improvements

Project Description: The City of North St. Paul recently completed a 20-year capital improvement plan, a key component of which is to allocate funds for major infrastructure improvements. The City also adopted a Living Streets Plan in 2011, which presented an argument for making North St. Paul streets more livable as the city undertakes street reconstruction projects over the next 20 years. The plan includes design recommendations for pavement street width, storm water treatment, underground utilities, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and street plantings. It also identifies specific street routes that should be targeted for improvements, connecting major recreational assets in the community. Students in a participation processes course in urban planning designed a prototype public participation process for the city to engage residents prior to and during reconstruction projects. Students in three other courses in public policy, public health, and architecture documented the benefits of a living streets approach to help the city make the case to residents for street improvements, and identified other engagement methods such as visual preference surveys and a living streets model that the city can use to better engage residents around street reconstruction projects.

Class: PA 5253: Designing Participation Processes (fall 2013)
Instructor: Carissa Schively Slotterback (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectsTeam 1 Report | Team 2 Report | Team 3 Report

Class: PA 8081—Making Sustainable Transportation Work (Spring 2014)
InstructorGreg Lindsey (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectReport and Poster

Class: PH 6100—Topics in Environmental Health: Urban Ecosystems (Spring 2014)
InstructorsBetsy Wattenberg, Petrona Lee, and Matt Simcik (School of Public Health)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectReport and Presentation

Class: ARCH 3250—Architecture: Community-Based Projects (Spring 2014)
InstructorJames Wheeler (College of Design)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student Project: Report

Green Energy Initiative

Project Description: North Saint Paul is unique in that it operates its own electric utility, in cooperation with Minnesota Municipal Power Agency. The city sought assistance investigating and providing information to residents, businesses, and elected officials about alternative energy and energy conservation initiatives, as well as identifying strategies for dedicating electric utility revenue toward green energy initiatives such as wind, solar, and geothermal. A public policy course investigated options for green energy initiatives, community-based energy development, distributed generation systems, district energy approaches, and net-zero-carbon development. Students in a law clinic focused on green energy and broader sustainability initiatives the city could implement through regulatory changes and incentives.

Class: PA 5721: Energy and Environmental Policy (fall 2013)
InstructorElizabeth Wilson (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Brian Frandle, North St. Paul Electric Utility Director
Student Projects:

Overview by Elizabeth Wilson: Presentation
Energy EfficiencyPolicy Brief and Presentation  |  Video
Smart MetersPolicy Brief, Presentation, and Poster  |  Video
Demand-Side ManagementPolicy Brief and Presentation  |  Video
Distributed GenerationPolicy Brief  |  Video
Net Zero: Presentation  |  Video

Class: LAW 7012: Land Use, Energy and Environment Clinic (fall 2013/spring 2014)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, North St. Paul
InstructorJean Coleman (Law School)
Student ProjectsGreenStep Cities Memo and Presentation  |  Sustainability Memo and Presentation

Crime Watch and Neighborhood Identities

Project Description: Strong communities are built on strong neighborhoods. The City of North St. Paul sought to build on existing neighborhood crime watch organizations to engage and empower neighborhood residents to keep their neighborhoods safe, livable, and vibrant, while developing a clearer sense of resident issues and priorities. A graduate-level Urban Planning course in public participation processes developed a generalized engagement strategy for unengaged or underrepresented populations in the city, including a process for getting residents engaged in neighborhood and community issues.

Class: PA 5253: Planning Participation Processes
InstructorCarissa Schively Slotterback (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectsTeam 1 Report  |  Team 2 Report

Community Branding

Project Description: North Saint Paul has a proud history and identity as a working-class community with a small-town feel, a collective identity that helps foster strong social ties among residents. However, the City is in need of a fresh “brand” that acknowledges the richness of the community’s past but also embraces its future direction and opportunities. Students in an undergraduate graphic design course conducted background research on the city’s historical and current identity, and solicited input from residents, city staff, and appointed and elected officials to create several design alternatives for a new graphic identity that the City can use for signs, business forms and marketing materials, communications media (website, Facebook account, newsletter), and other materials. The designs were accompanied by standards to guide implementation.

Class: GDES 3352: Identity and Symbols (fall 2013)
Instructor: Deb Lawton (College of Design)
City Project Lead: Laurie Koehnle, Communications Manager, City of North St. Paul
Student Projects:

Elise BoraasPresentation and Standards Manual
Emi NguyenPresentation
Emma RadkePresentation and Standards Manual
Jacinda Schweitzer: Presentation and Standards Manual
Kathryn BlongPresentation and Standards Manual
Laura NygrenPresentation and Standards Manual
Max LindorferPresentation and Standards Manual

Downtown Revitalization Strategies

Project Description: A recently adopted Redevelopment Master Plan for North Saint Paul’s “diversified district” identified strategies for revitalization of the downtown, including compression of the downtown retail core, supporting streetscape and other improvements to enhance the pedestrian experience in the downtown, and identifying “niche” businesses that would thrive in the downtown to guide future redevelopment efforts. Teams of graduate students in a public policy course on community economic development analyzed parking needs, conducted a market analysis for the downtown area, and offered recommendations for related strategies to revitalize North St. Paul’s downtown business district. An urban planning graduate capstone course on economic development investigated options for business improvement districts as one strategy to revitalize downtown North St. Paul.

Class: PA 5511: Community Economic Development (fall 2013)
Instructor: Bob Streetar (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student Projects:

Parking Analysis: Final Report and Poster
Market Analysis: Final Report and Poster

Class: PA 8081: Economic Development (spring 2014)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
InstructorsLee Munnich and Lyssa Leitner (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
Student Project: Final Report and Presentation

Conservation and Economic Development Initiative

Project Description: North St. Paul has its own municipal utility, which is required by state law to spend 1.5% of its gross operating revenue on conservation improvement projects (CIP). The city has existing conservation improvement and energy efficiency programs, but believes these programs are not being fully utilized by local residents and businesses. A course in program evaluation designed an evaluation plan to assess the existing conservation and energy efficiency programs, including whether the programs are being effectively marketed/communicated, and whether the incentives being offered are consistent with homeowners’ or business owners’ needs and interests related to conservation and energy efficiency. A graduate-level public policy course on energy and environmental policy investigated options to promote new energy efficiency/conservation rebate programs and conservation improvement projects.

Class: OLPD 5501: Principles and Methods of Evaluation (fall 2013)
InstructorRandi Nelson (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Brian Frandle, Utilities Director, City of North St. Paul
Student Project: Final Report, Presentation, and Handout

Class: PA 5721: Energy and Environmental Policy (fall 2013)
InstructorElizabeth Wilson (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Brian Frandle, Utilities Director, City of North St. Paul
Student Projects:

Overview by Elizabeth Wilson: Presentation
Energy EfficiencyPolicy Brief and Presentation  |  Video
Smart MetersPolicy Brief, Presentation, and Poster  |  Video
Demand-Side ManagementPolicy Brief and Presentation  |  Video
Distributed GenerationPolicy Brief  |  Video
Net Zero: Presentation  |  Video

Civic Engagement and Communication

Project Description: One of the key goals for the North St. Paul outlined by the city council in 2013 was better communication with residents. The city’s aging and increasingly diverse population creates challenges to communicating effectively. Students in two program evaluation courses worked on this issue: one designed an evaluation plan to assess the city’s existing internal and external communications efforts, while the other conducted an assessment of the city’s current communications efforts and future needs and provided recommendations for how to better engage residents in their local government and community.

Class: OLPD 5501: Principles and Methods of Evaluation (fall 2013)
InstructorRandi Nelson (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Laurie Koehnle, Communications Manager, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectReport, Presentation, and Handout

Class: OLPD 8595: Evaluation Problems (spring 2014)
InstructorJean King (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Laurie Koehnle, Communications Manager, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectReport and Poster

Environmental Education Initiative

Project Description: Increasingly, urban residents are detached from, and lack opportunities to meaningfully interact with, their natural environment. North St. Paul has many unique natural features that offer opportunities to educate residents about the local ecosystem and natural resources that are available, and to encourage residents to reengage with their natural environment. RCP engaged students in environmental education at the University of Minnesota Duluth campus to develop recommendations to inform a long-range operations and management plan for Southwood Park, a 29-acre nature reserve located in the southern portion of North Saint Paul that features a large wetland, a restored oak savannah, and a limited walking trail system. Students in a another course in the School of Design used a “design thinking” approach to identify how best to engage residents in learning about the local ecosystem and environmental issues in Southwood Park, which currently has minimal programming or interpretive signage to engage visitors. A graduate student in Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management focused on North Saint Paul’s environmental education needs as the subject of her thesis project for her master of science degree, examining how residents of North Saint Paul understand parks, trails, and natural areas in the community. A second course in environmental education at the University of Minnesota Duluth campus developed recommendations for creating environmental education programs at Southwood. Finally, a course in adult education considering educational programming for residents and users of Southwood Park. All of these projects involved collaboration with community education staff, local master naturalists, and neighbors of Southwood Park.

Class: EnEd 4315: Operations & Management (fall 2013)
InstructorKen Gilbertson (Environmental Education, University of Minnesota at Duluth)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report, Presentation, and Aerial Image 

Class: DES 3131: User Experience in Design (fall 2013)
InstructorAnge Wang (College of Design)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student Projects:

Group 1 Report and Poster
Group 2 Report and Poster
Group 3 Report and Poster
Group 4 Report and Poster
Group 5 Report and Poster
Group 6 Report and Poster
Group 7 Report and Poster
Group 8 Report and Poster

Master of Science Thesis: Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management (year-long)
StudentMary Hammes
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report

Class: EnEd 5325: Environmental Issues Investigation (spring 2014)
InstructorKen Gilbertson (Environmental Education, University of Minnesota at Duluth)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report, Presentation, and Poster

Class: OLPD 5204: Designing Adult Education Programs (spring 2014)
InstructorCatherine Twohig (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report, Presentation, and Poster

Redevelopment-Ready Community

Project Description: In addition to making specific redevelopment sites “shovel-ready,” North Saint Paul seeks to create an action plan to become an Urban Land Institute–certified “redevelopment-ready” community—a city that is an attractive and inviting location for developers to work and for businesses to (re)locate. To help inform this effort, students in a principles and methods of evaluation course designed an evaluation program to assess the city’s current development review process and regulations based on input from stakeholders (developers, investors, business owners, commercial real estate brokers, lending institutions) who have worked with the city in the past.

Class: OLPD 5501: Principles and Methods of Evaluation (fall 2013)
InstructorRandi Nelson (College of Education and Human Development
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report, Presentation, and Handout

Community Gardening Planning

Project Description: In recent years, there has been some interest among residents in North St. Paul to develop community gardens. The City recognized urban agriculture as a growing trend that could improve sense of community, encourage healthy eating, and improve food security through access to locally produced food. However, the city had no formal policy or process in place for community gardens. An urban planning course in public participation designed a community engagement process the City can use to develop a community gardening policy and identify key garden site opportunities in the community. Students in another course in environmental policy and planning researched best practices related to fostering and supporting community gardening.

Class: PA 5253: Planning Participation Processes (fall 2013)
InstructorCarissa Schively Slotterback (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectsTeam 1 Final Report and Poster  |  Team 2 Final Report

Class: PA 5242: Environmental Planning, Policy, and Decision Making
InstructorCarissa Schively Slotterback (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report, Poster, and Presentation

Housing Conservation and Aging in Place

Project Description: Most of the housing stock (both single-family and multifamily) in North St. Paul is post–World War II vintage, and many of these homes are in need of repair or upgrading. However, many aging residents do not have the financial resources, skills, or assistance to make improvements or repairs. The purpose of this project was to develop programs or policies that would stabilize the housing stock in the community and provide housing options that make it possible for residents to age in place in North St. Paul. Students in a housing studies course focused on promoting independence in housing and community evaluated existing housing and community design characteristics in North Saint Paul and made recommendations for regulations, standards, and public policies the City can consider to support aging in place and upgrading existing housing stock. A  course in the School of Social Work conducted aging-specific in-home assessments with 15 volunteer North St. Paul residents and their caregivers that included their housing situation, resource management, formal and informal support systems, mental health, and cognitive abilities. Students then identified gaps in services and made recommendations for what the city can do to address these gaps, either directly or in partnership with other organizations or agencies. Another course in the School of Public Health conducted focus groups with volunteer senior North St. Paul residents to identify their specific needs, challenges, and concerns related to aging in place (either in their current homes or in another home in the community) and made recommendations for how the city can support aging in place. Finally, a graduate student in an urban planning course on housing policy researched and made recommendations for programs, policies, and strategies the city can use to support aging in place and make North St Paul truly a “community for a lifetime.”

Class: HSG 5481: Promoting Independence in Housing and Community (fall 2013)
InstructorLyn Bruin (College of Design)  |  Accessible House, Adaptable House, Smart House Presentation
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report, Presentation, and Poster

Class: SW 8251: Social Work Practice in Health, Disabilities, and Aging (fall 2013)
Instructor: Stacy Remke (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student Project: Final Report, Resource Report, and Poster

Class: GERO 5105: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Aging (fall 2013)
InstructorLisa Edstrom (School of Public Health)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Presentation  |  Final Report, Executive Summary, and Poster

Class: PA 5261: Housing Policy (spring 2014)
InstructorEdward Goetz (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report and Presentation

Staff Satisfaction and Staff Development

Project Description: The City of North St. Paul recognizes that staff satisfaction and enrichment can encourage staff retention, ultimately helping the community to move in a consistent and forward direction. The city employs approximately 60 staff within four areas: Public Works, Public Safety, Community and Economic Development, and Finance. To help inform the creation of a staff development plan, the city wanted to understand how satisfied current staff are with their job at the city and understand how to better ensure staff satisfaction and development. Students enrolled in a principles and methods of evaluation course designed an evaluation program to assess staff satisfaction, including what staff want or need in their day-to-day work environment, as well as what incentives or educational opportunities would encourage them to continue working at the city. Another course in human resources and industrial relations developed recommendations for improving staff morale and fostering staff development.

Class: OLPD 5501: Principles and Methods of Evaluation (fall 2013)
InstructorRandi Nelson (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Jason Ziemer, City Manager, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report, Handout, and Presentation

Class: OLPD 8595: Evaluation Problems (spring 2014)
Instructor: 
Jean King (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: 
Jason Ziemer, City Manager, City of North St. Paul
Student Project: 
Final Report

Class: HRIR 8034: Employee Development–Creating a Competitive Advantage
InstructorStacy Doepner-Hove (Carlson School of Management)
City Project Lead: Jason Ziemer, City Manager, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectsPoster
Student Projects:

Group 1: Change Management and Employee Engagement Report
Group 2: Onboarding Report
Group 3: Individual Development Report
Group 4: Performance Management Report
Group 5: Wellness and Work-Life Balance Report

Public Art Plan

Project Description: North St. Paul wanted to engage residents of all ages and demographics by better incorporating public art into the community, instilling a greater sense of community pride. The community once had an Arts Council that had gone dormant, and hoped to re-engage the community and revitalize the downtown and neighborhood districts through public art. Students in an urban planning course focused on public engagement designed a participation process for developing a public art plan, proposed a strategy for facilitating long-term community engagement around public art, and identified strategies to reengage the previous city arts council. Students in a design thinking course identified strategies for engaging local residents around public art.

Class: PA 5253: Planning Participation Processes (fall 2013)
InstructorCarissa Schively Slotterback(Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student Projects:

Team 1 Report
Team 2 Report and Poster

Class: LS 5100: Design Thinking
InstructorVirajita Singh (College of Design)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report

Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan

Project Description: With the recent discovery of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, the damage from the borer is an issue every community in the region will soon need to address. Roughly one-third of the trees in North St. Paul are ash, including 80% of the trees in parks and 80% of the trees on the north side of town. The City had no plan in place to respond to the invasion of the EAB, to remove dead or dying trees before they become a public hazard, or to replace trees so the community maintains its tree canopy. Teams of students in urban forestry completed an inventory of trees in North St. Paul, used a cost-benefit analysis to develop recommendations for managing EAB in the city, and developed a protocol for how to gain community support for the management plan. In addition, a course in adult education developed a plan for how to communicate the risks of EAB to homeowners.

Class: FR 4501/5501: Research Problems: Urban Forestry—Biology and Management (spring 2014)
InstructorGary Johnson (College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report and Presentation

Class: OLPD 5204: Designing Adult Education Programs (spring 2014)
InstructorCatherine Twohig (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report, Fact Sheet, and Poster

Stormwater Management

Project Description: Significant rain events in the last few years have overwhelmed the storm water systems in North St. Paul, creating localized flooding issues in several neighborhoods. In addition, most portions of the city drain to Kohlman Lake, one of the four lakes that make up the Phalen Chain of Lakes. Kohlman Lake is impaired for phosphorus, which causes potentially dangerous algae blooms, and storm water from North St. Paul contributes to the problem. Students in a civil engineering course investigated cost-effective solutions to remediate local flooding issues and reduce total suspended solids and phosphorus load to local and downstream lakes.

Class: CE 5511: Urban Hydrology (spring 2014)
Instructor: John Gulliver (College of Science and Engineering)
CIty Project Lead: Morgan Dawley, contract city engineer for North St. Paul/WSB Associates
Student Projects:

Casey Lake Subwatershed: Final Report, Presentation, and Poster 
Urban Ecology Center Subwatershed: Final Report, Presentation, and Poster
Silver Lake Subwatershed: Final Report, Presentation, and Poster

2013–2014 Partner: North St. Paul

RCP's community partner for the 2013-2014 academic year was the City of North St Paul, Minnesota. As a fully developed first-ring suburb, North St. Paul has a rich history and small-town atmosphere, reflected in the spirit of its residents and the livelihood of community events. In recent decades, however, the city has faced a number of challenges, including a declining tax base, aging housing and infrastructure, ongoing competition for commercial and retail development, and lack of accessibility due to the recently completed Highway 36 reconstruction project. These challenges also present opportunities for the community to reenergize its residents and forge ahead toward a more sustainable and resilient community that both honors its past and anticipates its future.

RCP partnered with North St. Paul on 16 projects that engaged hundreds of students in dozens of courses from across the University of Minnesota. You can view a brief summary of the partnership and projects, or learn more about individual projects by visiting the North St. Paul Projects page.

RCP–North St Paul Partnership in the News:

Advancing a Network of Community-Engaged Sustainability Programs

Pioneer Square in Portland, Oregon

BY CARISSA SCHIVELY SLOTTERBACK

On April 10-12, a group of more than 40 faculty and staff from 24 universities gathered in Portland and Eugene, Oregon, to explore prospects for building a network of community-engaged sustainability programs.  The gathering was sponsored by the Sustainable Cities Initiative and its Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) at the University of Oregon.

The conference offered details about the SCYP program and its now four years of work with Oregon communities on a vast range of sustainability projects.  The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) participated in the workshop last year as well, and continues to be inspired by the high level of success that SCYP has achieved in terms of garnering university and community support, media visibility, student outcomes, high-quality community projects, and faculty engagement.

RCP Program Manager Mike Greco and I represented RCP at the workshop.  RCP is among a small number of “pioneer’ programs that are now underway at universities and that have been significantly influenced by the Oregon SCYP model.  As a pioneer, we had the opportunity to share the story of our first year of work with our pilot community, Minnetonka.  We highlighted the influence of the Sustainability Faculty Network in initiating RCP, our efforts to distinguish our work among other public engagements at the UMN, our current funding model, and lessons learned during our first year.

Three other pioneer programs were represented as well, including the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities at the University of Iowa, CityLabs of the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, and Penn State University’s Sustainable Communities Program.  Each of these programs is connecting university courses with community-based projects in one or more communities.

The workshop allowed us to learn from the SCYP model and its growing base of experience.  At the same time, we had the opportunity to learn from the programs noted above, as well as other public and private, small and large universities from around the country.  Hearing more about how the SCYP model is being tailored to a wide variety of university and community contexts, we can begin to think strategically about how to advance community-engaged education in sustainability in the context of a very large research-focused land grant institution like the UMN.

Among the pioneers and other programs emerging at universities such as San Diego State University, Arizona State University, College of New Jersey, and Earlham College, there are tremendous opportunities to develop a network of community-engaged sustainability programs.  A network offers significant opportunities to attract national sources of funding.  In addition, there is an opportunity to support and develop shared resources such as capacity-building modules for faculty on community engagement approaches and for students focused on sustainability.  There is also a strong interest in developing a shared database, including an interactive searchable website that highlights community-based projects as best practices for communities and students interested in sustainability.

The conference offered a great venue for sharing our RCP story, and at the same time left us inspired that we are part of something bigger.  There is tremendous momentum and interest around community-engaged sustainability and we’re proud to be at the leading edge.

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  

Schively Slotterback gives Frontiers on the Environment lecture

April 24 – University–Community Collaboration to Advance Sustainability

Carissa Schively Slotterback, IonE Resident Fellow and Associate Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

RCP Director Prof. Carissa Schively Slotterback will speak at the Institute on the Environment's Frontiers on the Environment lecture this Wed, April 24th.  As an increasing number of communities and universities work to advance the priorities of sustainability and resilience, their collaboration can yield wide-ranging benefits. This presentation will highlight the Resilient Communities Project (RCP)—a new and innovative model of education and community engagement intended to build long-term capacity to produce sustainable solutions and resilient institutions. RCP facilitates a yearlong partnership between the University of Minnesota and a Minnesota community, matching University expertise with local projects to produce on-the-ground sustainability outcomes and meaningful practical experience for students. The presentation will explore RCP's work during its inaugural year and further prospects for making the University more engaged, more interdisciplinary and more strategic in responding to critical challenges in Minnesota communities and beyond.

Pioneer Press: North St. Paul enters sustainability partnership with University of Minnesota

North St. Paul enters sustainability partnership with University of Minnesota

BY SARAH HORNER, St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 19, 2013

North St. Paul is positioned to amp up its sustainability efforts.

The city beat out six others to become the University of Minnesota's Resilient Communities Project partner for the 2013-14 academic year.

The partnership means university students from a variety of disciplines will help North St. Paul make headway on several sustainability-related projects in the small city.

Read the entire article >>

North St. Paul Selected as 2013-2014 Community Partner

Contacts: Mike Greco, Resilient Communities Project, mgreco@umn.edu, (612) 625-7501; Laurie Koehnle, City of North St. Paul, laurie.koehnle@ci.north-saint-paul.mn.us, (651) 747-2504; Matt Hodson, University News Service, mjhodson@umn.edu, 612-625-0552

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/14/2013) — The University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project is pleased to announce that the city of North St. Paul has been selected as its partner community for the 2013–2014 academic year. The partnership will bring the expertise of hundreds of graduate students and the University to sustainability-related projects identified by North St. Paul.

“We look forward to this exciting opportunity,” said Nate Ehalt, community development director for North St. Paul. “Our selection as the partner community will build on the City’s 125-year history of sustainability and develop a key partnership that will assist us in identifying practical solutions for the community’s future success.”

RCP faculty director and Humphrey School of Public Affairs associate professor Carissa Schively Slotterback noted, “We're very excited about our upcoming partnership with North St. Paul. The enthusiasm of city staff and the diversity of local projects identified will ensure a productive and enjoyable collaboration.”

RCP organizes year-long partnerships between the University of Minnesota and Minnesota communities. Each academic year, RCP chooses a city partner through a competitive request-for-proposal process, helps identify potential projects based on community-identified sustainability issues and needs, and then matches the city’s project needs with University of Minnesota courses.

The partnership provides the community with access to students from a wide range of programs and disciplines—from architecture, planning and engineering to business, environmental sciences and the humanities. Through work with RCP, the community is able to enhance its own capacity to advance sustainability. Students who participate in RCP projects benefit from real-world opportunities to apply their knowledge and training and bring energy, enthusiasm and innovative approaches to address local issues.

North St. Paul’s winning proposal was selected from among seven submitted. The proposal identifies 18 projects for which the city would like assistance, including developing live/work housing, revitalizing the city’s downtown, investigating green energy alternatives, creating “living streets,” planning community gardens, identifying economic development strategies, designing civic engagement initiatives, crafting an environmental education program and creating a public art plan. Staff from RCP and North St. Paul will begin working this spring to define the scope of the projects and match them with courses offered at the University in fall 2013 and spring 2014. RCP program manager Mike Greco will administer the partnership on behalf of the University, and North St. Paul community development director Nate Ehalt will coordinate the city’s participation in the program.

RCP is an initiative of the Sustainability Faculty Network at the University of Minnesota, with funding and administrative support provided by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and the Institute on the Environment (IonE). To learn more, visit rcp.umn.edu.

About the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs: The University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) connects the resources of the University of Minnesota with the interests and needs of urban communities and the region. CURA pursues its urban and regional mission by facilitating and supporting connections between state and local governments, neighborhoods, and nonprofit organizations, and relevant resources at the University, including faculty and students from appropriate campuses, colleges, centers or departments. Learn more at www.cura.umn.edu.

About the Institute on the Environment: The University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment discovers solutions to Earth’s most pressing environmental problems by conducting transformative research, developing the next generation of global leaders and building world-changing partnerships. Learn more at www.environment.umn.edu.

About North St. Paul: North St. Paul is a town of 3.1 square miles with a six-block-long main street. A small industrial village turned first-ring suburb, North St. Paul embraces its small-town feel but also recognizes it is part of a larger region. With 125 years of history, North St. Paul is a tight-knit community with bonds to the town atmosphere, its neighbors and their shared past. It is also a town that looks to the future, embracing technology and seeking new ways to capture the next wave of innovation and ingenuity to propel the community forward. Learn more at www.northstpaul.net.  

Rosemount Town Pages: City hopes to become 'resilient'

BY EMILY ZIMMER

February 6, 2013

The University of Minnesota Resilient Communities Project will pick one community to partner with for the 2013-2014 academic year. The city of Rosemount hopes to be that community partner.

Through the partnership, students and faculty from across the university collaborate with a Minnesota community to address its self-defined sustainability-related needs through course-based projects, according to the university’s website. The program was piloted last year in the city of Minnetonka.

The Rosemount City Council approved a resolution to apply for the program during its Tuesday night meeting.

Read the full article on the Rosemount Town Pages website

Investments in water and energy efficiency that pay back

BY BARRETT COLOMBO

When the City of Minnetonka approached Holaday Circuits, Inc., about a project to improve water and energy conservation within the company’ operations, the partnership came easily.  The Minnetonka-based company produces circuit boards and other equipment that requires a lot of water and power to manufacture.  Although the company is already at the cutting edge of water and energy efficiency in their operations, they were open to finding even more opportunities for improvement.

“What’s good for the environment is good for our customers and Holaday Circuits,” Clyde Bassimor, Facilities Manager at Holaday Circuits, told the students during their visit to the company facilities.   Although the students were impressed at the actions Holaday had already taken to make their operations more efficient, their analysis discovered opportunities for reusing water and energy with paybacks on investment of as little as three months.

Because the impacts of excess water use and energy consumption can increase a community’s vulnerability to environmental shocks over the long term, the City of Minnetonka hopes to improve resource use in the community through partnering with businesses to identify conservation opportunities.  Holaday Circuits can serve as a model to other businesses in the community; this spring, the Resilient Communities Project will engage graduate students in communications to extend the Holaday case study into a larger effort to engage other businesses.

The Holaday Circuits–Minnetonka partnership is one project in a much larger effort coordinated by the Resilient Communities Project (RCP).   RCP partners with one community over an academic year to work on a broad range of solutions that address community-identified sustainability needs.  More than twenty courses from seven different colleges at the University are working in Minnetonka during the course of this year.  This past fall, a course on Pollution Prevention, taught by Professor Cindy McComas, worked with Holaday Circuits and the City of Minnetonka to identify water and energy conservation opportunities.

One promising but controversial recommendation from students in McComas’ class revolved around whether the large amount of waste water the facility discharges could be reused effectively.  Because water used in electronics manufacturing becomes contaminated with dissolved metals, it is considered waste that requires treatment.  However, the students’ analysis suggested that the waste water could be reused in the company’s existing cooling towers as part of the facility’s temperature control system.  Cooling towers don’t require potable water, and the existing system could be retrofitted to use the company’s waste water instead.  The students noted that although this change could significantly lower the company’s water bill, mineral and sustained bacteria growth in the cooling towers could cause problems.

Students also recommended adding sensors to facility lights to reduce energy use, and weatherizing doors in Holaday’s delivery area, including tighter compression seals to fit around the top and sides of trucks while they are in the loading dock . The students estimated that the company would make up for the cost of this investment in as little as three months.

Barrett Colombo is a program associate for the Resilient Communities Project

Dense housing that complements suburban open space

BY BARRETT COLOMBO

For many residents of Minnetonka, a suburb in the southwest metro of the Twin Cities with ample lakes, wetlands, and woodlots, the rural character of their community is a defining characteristic.  At the same time, the community has watched with some concern as new buyers looking for mid-priced homes pass over Minnetonka for bordering communities that are more affordable.

To explore options for mid-priced housing that doesn't conflict with Minnetonka’s natural open space and beauty, the City is partnering with the University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP).  Each academic year, RCP partners with one community to work on a broad range of solutions that address community-identified sustainability needs.  Graduate students from a course at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs taught by Professors David Hollister and Lauren Martin worked with the City to research how to create a greater diversity of housing options via small-lot development.

How do you create successful, new, more dense development in a suburban area with traditionally large lots and plenty of natural areas between homes?  The difference between an attractive but dense suburban development and a costly flop, the students suggest, hinges upon designs that build upon established values in the community, such as preservation of natural areas and open space.  The team also noted that successful developments around the country have all involved residents meaningfully in the development process.

As the team investigated options, the students increasingly felt that traditional suburban design would conflict with the desire to maintain open space and natural areas that exist in Minnetonka.  Minnetonka’s minimum lot size is usually a half acre, and the city has preserved a high proportion of its natural wetlands. New suburban small-lot developments in Minnetonka have been able to deliver housing at mid-level prices.  However, the team found that if these developments continued, they would likely conflict with residents’ fear of losing the rural and natural character of their community.

So how to maintain the characteristics that large-lot owners value on a smaller lot?  The team recommended an “intentional design approach” that fulfills values of privacy and attractiveness while emphasizing use and flexibility of green spaces.  Re-thinking streets can also be a means of adding value to the community.  “Narrow streets have an aesthetic benefit, they create more space for play, and unconventional paving or other design cues indicate that the street can be used for play and other uses,” explained Joseph Giant, another graduate student on the team.

Several recommendations focused on improving the transitional space between homes, and making sure all space is well-used.  Creed noted that, “Transitional space shouldn’t be ignored in a smaller lot. Instead you are using landscaping and built elements to define spaces that are more useful.”  Other recommendations included deep and narrow lot design to minimize streetscape and maximize privacy.  Locating garages toward the back of the house minimizes their dominance, while sinking them partly below driveway level also increases privacy by raising the first level of the home.

The team also suggested that the City and developers could increase residents’ understanding about new approaches to mid-priced, dense developments by engaging residents early in the design process, and involving them throughout.

Barrett Colombo is a program associate for the Resilient Communities Project

Putting the "U" in Community

Article originally posted on Eye on Earth Jan 4, 2013, by Mary Hoff

BY MARY HOFF

Writing term papers, doing problem sets ... it's easy for college students to wonder whether what they do really matters. But members of 10 University of Minnesota classes last fall had no question at all about the relevance of their work. Inaugural participants in the University's new Resilient Communities Project, they spent their semester helping solve very real sustainability challenges for the city of Minnetonka.

Continue reading "Putting the 'U' in Community"

 

Building on common interests to strengthen community connections

By BARRETT COLOMBO

How might a city better involve its citizens in local government and encourage a stronger sense of community among residents?  University of Minnesota (U of MN) students tackled these and other issues to recommend strategies that could place the City of Minnetonka at the forefront of innovative efforts to encourage connections among its residents.

City staff and students from two University of Minnesota classes made their way over icy roads to meet at the Minnetonka City Hall on Monday, December 11, to present findings from the neighborhood identities project, sponsored by the Resilient Communities Project (RCP) . The presentation was one part of a much larger RCP partnership with the City of Minnetonka to focus on issues of resilience in the community over the course of the academic year.  Students from two different courses at the U of MN took very different approaches to address the question: How might better connections with and among residents be developed over the next few years, and what role might new or existing neighborhood organizations play?

Student recommendations included building upon existing community organizations to better connect residents, supporting an electronic networking platform for community organizations, and using design thinking to understand residents' relationships to each other and to local government in the age of smart phones, texting, and social media .

The students noted that while residents may connect with their neighbors simply because of proximity, they are just as likely to connect with others in their community based on common interest. “There are two realms: the geographic, but also the virtual realm, Professor Virajita Singh explained. “Our work explored whether we can connect the two and see if there is an overlap. It is very clear that communities of interest are trying to learn what others are doing.” The students recommended specific approaches for networking that could promote community cohesion within the city and encourage stronger connections between local government and residents.

Minnetonka City Manager Geralyn Barone remarked that one of the design concepts developed by a student—which employed the idea of geographic neighborhoods as beehives and the bees’ flight patterns as representing community networks, relationships, and social interactions—was particularly helpful: “The beehive concept was an ‘aha’ moment for me, because it emphasized to me that people are connected to communities, but it just might be in different ways.  We want to listen and be thoughtful about how people interact and choose to interact, then facilitate these connections.”

Students from the course Neighborhood Revitalization, taught by Professors David Hollister and Lauren Martin, interviewed directors of local community and neighborhood organizations in Minnetonka, and researched case studies of how neighborhood organizations developed and function in other cities in Minnesota and elsewhere in the nation. Laura Holey, a graduate student in Hollister and Martin’s class, discussed the benefits of combining local interviews with research on models from across the country. “Paring our research down to a city the scale of the city of Minnetonka was really helpful—even though our research on models didn’t really line up perfectly with the interviews, it was manageable,” Holey said.  “Every interview gave us more information and hints on what Minnetonka was about, and what it needed.”

Another course, Design Thinking for Action, applied design thinking approaches adapted from architecture and product design. Maggie Satler, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, remarked that, “The perspective of design thinking can be really helpful in developing creative new solutions for creating neighborhood cohesion.”

Students and city staff agreed that a multidisciplinary approach to key issues of resilience benefited both the city and the students.  As Dean Porter, a student in Hollister’s course,  explained: “The fact that the design thinking class was working on this from a whole different perspective was something that was really enlightening to be a part of. Its interesting that many of our recommendations were aligned.”

Barrett Colombo is a program associate for the Resilient Communities Project.

APA Minnesota Lunch Event to Feature RCP

When: Wednesday, December 12, 12:00–1:00 pm

Presenters: Jeff Thomson, City of Minnetonka, and Mike Greco, University of Minnesota

Where: City of Minnetonka, 14600 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka, MN 55345 http://www.eminnetonka.com/.

About the event: The Resilient Communities Project is a year-long partnership between the University of Minnesota and one community in Minnesota in which students and faculty from across the University collaborate with the partner city to address their sustainability-related needs through course-based projects. This collaboration is for on-the-ground impact and forward movement for a community ready to transition to a more sustainable and livable future.

The Resilient Communities Project model provides a partner community access to hundreds of students and faculty across a range of academic disciplines including architecture, planning, engineering, business, environmental sciences and the humanities. Many projects combine multiple disciplines to address problems from diverse perspectives. Expertise is available related to all aspects of sustainability (environmental health, economic opportunity, social equity and community livability) and all stages of sustainability efforts (analysis, planning, design, implementation, and evaluation). Students benefit from real-world opportunities to apply their knowledge and training, as well as bringing energy, enthusiasm, and innovative approaches to address difficult, persistent problems.

This event has been approved for CM credit by the APA.

About the presenters: Mike Greco is the program manager for the Resilient Communities Project at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA). He is an adjunct faculty member in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs urban and regional planning program and sits on the Dakota County Planning Commission as well as serving on various regional advisory committees on urban planning and sustainability issues.

Jeff Thomson is the associate planner at the City of Minnetonka, and serves as the program coordinator for the city’s partnership with the Resilient Communities Project. His primary work focuses on land use planning for the city. He previously worked for the cities of Apple Valley, Minnesota and South Bend, Indiana. He received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Notre Dame and master’s degree in public administration from Hamline University.

Attendees are welcome to bring their own lunch to the event. Please RSVP to Matthew Parent at matthew.parent@co.anoka.mn.us by Monday, December 10th.

Current RCP projects address core community issues

For over three months, RCP students and faculty from seven colleges at the University of Minnesota have been working on key issues of resilience in the City of Minnetonka. Current projects include:

Stormwater Management through Site Design | This project will provide analysis of stormwater management options and best practices as they relate to the Ridgedale Mall, which presents unique storm water issues. In turn, this effort will inform the development of a public education strategy intended to engage the public in advancing surface water quality protection.

Density and Housing Options Study | This project examines the relationship between density and housing types in Minnetonka.  The City would like to learn what approaches other communities have taken to provide a more diverse range of housing options for residents, with housing of various types, sizes, price points, and densities.  Students will research local and national case studies of similar cities that document strategies used to provide a more diverse range of housing for aging residents, young families, and recent immigrants; analyze residential "market leakage" into neighboring communities such as Plymouth or Eden Prairie; and research and evaluate various alternatives to smaller-lot and new methods of subdivision.

Stormwater and Illicit Discharge Management and Training | This project includes an audit of City of Minnetonka ordinances related to stormwater discharge in the context of local watershed, State of Minnesota, and federal regulations, and recommends changes to the City's regulations based on this analysis.  Goals of the project include identifying specific illicit discharge and other stormwater issues to reduce stormwater pollution, strengthening and integrating existing City stormwater management regulations, and streamlining the stormwater permitting process for project to create a one-stop permit that satisfies both City and watershed district requirements.

Post Development Critique | The Minnetonka Planning Division routinely works with developers, and reviews and manages development projects in the community, some of which are initially contentious with neighbors who live nearby.  Objections to the projects range from concerns about density and traffic to potential negative impacts on natural resources or community character.  This project would revisit three past developments--the Glen Lake Redevelopment Project, the Crest Ridge Corporate Center, and the Goodwill Industries Development--that were contentious at the time the projects were under review.  The goal is to determine, several years after development, if community goals were met, neighborhood concerns addressed, and whether developments remain controversial.

Water and Energy Conservation and Surface Water Protection | Many businesses and industries in Minnetonka use and discharge a significant amount of water and use large amounts of energy as part of their operations. This project develops an education and training program to assist businesses in the community to address water and energy conservation and surface water protection through their operations and site management. To inform development of the program, students will create a cast study based on collaboration with a Minnetonka-based company, including a cost analysis to assess the potential impact of pollution prevention strategies on the company's bottom line.

Conservation Development Standards | Conservation development approaches encourage sustainable development techniques that protect natural environmental features, preserve open space, protect natural habitats for wildlife, and maintain rural character.  This project examines the City of Minnetonka's conservation development scorecard to assess its effectiveness in evaluating previous and proposed conservation developments.  Student work will focus on whether the scorecard is influential in encouraging conservation strategies as part of development projects, and make recommendations of additional strategies and practices that could be advanced in a revised version of the scorecard.

Water Resources Prioritization Plan | The City of Minnetonka contains a large number of lakes, creeks, and wetlands.  However, the city has only limited financial resources to support preservation and restoration projects.  The city would like assistance determining how financial resources should best be allocated to preserve high-quality water resources and restore high-priority impaired waters.  This project will develop a prioritization plan to guide such investment.

Neighborhood Identities Project |  Minnetonka has many neighborhoods with unique identities.  However, neighborhood representation varies widely--from a few formal neighborhood organizations to numerous informal associations and, in many cases, no organizational representation at all.  Residents would benefit from the creation of distinct neighborhood identities and formal neighborhood associations in three ways: more formal representation of their interests and concerns in future small area planning; a greater sense of place fostered by identification with their own geographic neighborhood; and a stronger sense of community fostered by more frequent socializing and interaction with neighbors.  This project surveys existing neighborhood associations in Minnetonka to help the city understand what they do and how they function, as well as research local and national models for fashioning neighborhood identities and facilitating the creation of neighborhood organizations.

Minnetonka Patch:

Take a Poll: How Do You Feel About Your Minnetonka Neighborhood's Identity? BY BECKY GLANDER, Minnetonka Patch, December 6, 2012

In September, the city of Minnetonka and the University of Minnesota became partners for the Resilient Communities Project (RCP), an initiative that will bring the expertise of hundreds of graduate students and the University to sustainability-related projects identified by Minnetonka.

One of the projects currently being worked on is a study of approaches to enhancing neighborhood identities. The students are asking for a little input.

Read full story at the Minnetonka Patch website >>

RCP Information Session December 12

In conjunction with the recently issued request for proposals to become our community partner for 2013-2014, RCP is conducting an information session for interested communities on Wednesday, December 12, from 1:30–3 PM, in the Minnehaha Room, Minnetonka Community Center, 14600 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka, MN 55345. The session will provide an overview of the RCP program, discuss the elements of a competitive proposal, and provide an opportunity to ask questions of RCP staff.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal but are unable to attend the session, please contact RCP program director Mike Greco at mgreco@umn.edu to arrange an information session for your community.

Download materials from the information session

RCP Issues Request for Proposals for 2013-2014

RCPWebBanner.jpg

The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is now accepting proposals from cities and counties to be the community partner for 2013–2014. The partner community must support the effort through dedicated staff time and a local funding contribution. The selection process is competitive. The deadline for applications is 4:30 pm on February 15, 2013. A community partner for the 2013–2014 partnership year will be selected no later than March 15, 2013.

An information session about the program and RFP for potential RCP community partners will be held on December 12, 2012, from 1:30–3 PM, in the Minnehaha Room, Minnetonka Community Center, 14600 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka, MN 55345.

Learn more, including how to apply >>

Law Students and Minnetonka Tackle Stormwater Code

BY ALEXANDRIA CARRAHER

Alexandria Carraher is a student in the University of Minnesota Law School, student director of the Environment and Sustainability Law Clinic, and a Judicial Extern in the 4th Judicial District of Minnesota. 

When University of Minnesota Law School students met in late October with staff from the City of Minnetonka as part of the Resilient Communities Project, there was a lot that the staff and students needed to talk about. The meeting was focused on stormwater management in Minnetonka watersheds, and the City started by outlining three general projects: a study in illicit discharge regulation and proposed ordinance writing, rule streamlining to account for the four various watersheds in the Minnetonka area, and a study in minimal impact design standards as it relates to soil infiltration.

The meeting, part of the much larger Resilient Communities project, is one step in a year-long effort to move forward on priorities the Minnetonka City Council has identified as critical to the city’s long-term vitality and sustainability.

John Ryan, a first-year law student at Minnesota working on the stormwater project, has already found that the work provides great professional experience while contributing to the extended resilience of a community. "The City of Minnetonka is a real leader when it comes to green cities, and this project offers us a chance to work on issues that cities across the country will be dealing with in the years to come,” Ryan explained. "This project is a great opportunity for us to hone our legal skills with hands-on experience, while at the same time contributing to a cleaner, safer community."

Additionally, the students submitted questions to the city staff drawn from background research on the topic of stormwater runoff control. The city discussed the status of its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer permits (MS4), first issued in 2003 and reissued in 2006 per the Federal Clean Water Act. The permits are required under the Act, and distributed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. New permits are currently pending due to a dispute between the MPCA and the Minnesota Cities Stormwater Coalition (a partnership of affected municipalities) regarding the agency’s updated compliance standards.

Although water quality and land-use priorities can often be in conflict, by the end of the meeting, city staff and the law students agreed that they could take several steps forward in making Minnetonka’s streams and lakes healthier.

Alexandria Carraher, student director of the University of Minnesota Environment and Sustainability Law Clinic,  noted that “the students are really excited about the project. One of the interesting aspects of a project like this is working with city staff dealing with actual regulatory issues. This meeting was an opportunity to take what we as students knew from our background research and ask direct questions to further define what work would be the most valuable to the City of Minnetonka.”

Alexandria Carraher is a student in the University of Minnesota Law School, student director of the Environment and Sustainability Law Clinic, and a Judicial Extern in the 4th Judicial District of Minnesota. 

 

Apply to RCP

2019–2020 Call for Proposals

The University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is now accepting proposals from cities, counties, tribal governments, special districts, and regional government agencies or partnerships in Minnesota to be an RCP partner for the 2019–2020 academic year. Successful applicants will benefit from approximately 20,000 to 50,000 hours of work by University of Minnesota students and faculty, from a variety of disciplines, to provide research and technical assistance with projects that advance community resiliency. The partner must support the effort through dedicated staff time and a local financial contribution. The selection process is competitive. The deadline for applications is Friday, February 15, 2019. The selected partner(s) will be announced in March 2019. Prior partners have included Minnetonka, North St. Paul, Rosemount, Carver County, Brooklyn Park, Ramsey, Scott County, and Ramsey County.

About RCP Partnerships

RCP facilitates 15- to 18-month partnerships between the U of MN and communities in Minnesota. Through the program, students and faculty from across the University collaborate with local government partners to address the partner’s self-defined research and technical assistance needs through course-based projects. The collaboration results in on-the-ground impact and momentum for a community working toward a more livable, resilient, and sustainable future.

RCP provides the partner community with efficient access to the broad base of sustainability and resiliency expertise at the University of Minnesota by matching community-identified projects with graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses that can address their needs. Participating students and faculty represent a wide range of disciplines, from architecture, planning, and engineering to business, environmental sciences, and the humanities. Most projects combine multiple disciplines to address problems from diverse perspectives. 

RCP has the capacity to address 10–25 local projects during the partnership, matching each project with one or more courses or individual students to complete the necessary work. Project work will be completed primarily by graduate students, with oversight by faculty members and RCP staff. Student work will be performed during the fall, spring, and summer terms (September 2019 to August 2020).

Assistance is available related to all aspects of community resiliency and sustainability (e.g., environmental health, economic opportunity, social equity, and community livability), at all project stages (analysis, planning, design, implementation, and evaluation), and across all departments in the organization (administration, human resources, corrections, police and fire, planning, environmental management, public works, engineering, communications, parks and recreation, finance, and more). 

Eligibility

Cities, counties, tribal governments, special districts, and regional government agencies or partnerships in Minnesota are eligible to apply. The partner community must be able to support the effort through dedicated staff time and a local financial contribution.

How to Apply

Application Information for the 2019–2020 academic year is now available. As part of their proposal, applicants are required to identify and describe specific projects, the staff who will lead them, and the participation of external community partners for the 15- to 18-month partnership with RCP. 

Applications are due Friday, February 15, 2019, by 11:59 pmThe selected partner community will be announced in March 2019 and partnership preparation begins in April 2019.

For More Information

If you have questions about RCP or the application process, or would like to arrange an informational presentation to your organization's staff or elected officials, contact Mike Greco, RCP Director, mgreco@umn.edu or 612-625-7501.

RCP will also host a webinar in November 2018 for those interested in learning more about the program. Check this space soon for date, time, and registration information.

What Past Partners Have to Say about RCP

“This entire RCP process. . .is such a well-oiled machine. It’s a true testament to [RCP’s] vision for connecting education with the real world. Introducing fresh ideas into our innovation efforts has ignited a spark for me and the Innovation Leadership Team. We are grateful to have been a part of this journey. . . It’s been a ride I’ll never forget!”

—Lorraine Brady, IT Project Manager, Carver County

"Most of the projects were known priority needs prior to the city’s participation in the RCP program. Were it not for RCP, North St. Paul would not have been able to address those issues in a timely and cost effective manner. In our view, the RCP program was a vehicle by which the city could tap the numerous resources of the university for the betterment of our residents' future."

—Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, North St. Paul

"In our most conservative estimate of the value of that consultation with the students and faculty of the University of Minnesota [through the Resilient Communities Project], we estimated—and again, this is the most conservative estimate—around $400,000 in value. . . . What’s the value to the county in human terms, in terms of human wellbeing? In the words of the old ad, ‘it’s priceless.’ Because each project elevated our knowlege base, elevated our principles, our standards. We’re going to be working on the results of this [partnership] for months and years to come.”

—Tom Vellenga, Assistant County Administrator, Carver County

“We are now in the process of working on implementation plans for many of the study recommendations [that emerged from our partnership with RCP]. . . . [T]he City of Rosemount has found the RCP process to be a rewarding process and appreciated the opportunity to partner with the University of Minnesota on the project.

Kim Lindquist, Community Development Director

“What we received ultimately was very high quality, and it was great information for us as a City Council to look at, plan, and figure out how to utilize. . .going forward in a positive way for the citizens in our community.”

—Rosemount Mayor William Droste

"I think it really elevates the community’s opinion of the city because we have partnered with someone with a good reputation to do the work of the city. I think people can see that as both an efficient way to do business but also a smart way to do the city’s business. I wouldn’t underestimate the goodwill and the good PR that comes from participating in the RCP program.”

—Julie Wischnack, Community Development Director, City of Minnetonka

“Not only did we get fantastic work, but I think it’s really reinvigorated city staff. . .to be around students [and] faculty who have different ways of thinking and different ways of approaching an idea. So it has been an absolutely wonderful experience.”

—Susan Thomas, Principal Planner, City of Minnetonka

RCP Rethinks Urban Water Cycle

BY KATIE THOMPSON

Katie Thompson is the digital content assistant for the Sustainability Education program at the Institute on the Environment.

For most of us, the urban water cycle is largely invisible, except when it fails. Recently though, I accompanied ARCH 8567: Building and Site Integration in Sustainable Design, on a class field trip to Ridgedale mall in Minnetonka. Don't worry, the class was way more fun than the title suggests. One of almost a dozen University of Minnesota courses participating in the Resilient Communities Project (RCP), in partnership with the city of Minnetonka, ARCH 8567 looks at how building and site design impact the urban water cycle.  The class's primary objective is to come up with design options for Ridgedale mall's redevelopment plan that will make sustainable use of Minnetonka's water resources.

So, why does Minnesota take mall infrastructure so seriously? Peter MacDonagh, Adjunct Professor in Landscape Architecture, put it together for me, “It's the weather.” Evidently, six months of deep freeze across the state is a big incentive to create large, interior public spaces. I never thought of going to the mall as a remedy for cabin fever, but it does situate mall infrastructure within a more logical context.

Sort of.

Though the need for interior public spaces is clear, much of what is familiar about mall infrastructure is anything but logical. MacDonagh explained that many of the characteristics we have come to identify with malls reflect old ideas of “convenience” and how people use public spaces. Specifically, Ridgedale mall is a classic 1970's layout with sprawling parking lots and circuitous pathways between each “village center.” Consumers are forced to drive between storefronts that happen to be on different sides of the mall's widespread complex.

According to Jeff Thomson, Associate Planner for Minnetonka, most of the year, the parking lots are largely empty stretches of pavement that prevent stormwater from seeping into the ground. This increases runoff, which contributes much of the total water volume that must go through water treatment facilities, or lowers water quality in urban lakes and streams. This presents a year-round flooding potential and degrades nearby waterways. Big as they are, the existing parking lots are still not big enough during the holiday shopping season when masses of shoppers frantically descend on the mall. That's a bad tradeoff on all counts. This class field trip was about asking the right questions to help guide Minnetonka's plans towards long-term sustainability and ultimately envision the redevelopment of this area. Parking ramps, and a layout that prioritizes ease of walking instead of storefront prominence, are two ideas that would be a big step in the right direction.

After meeting with Minnetonka officials, the class went to see Bassett Creek, one of Minnetonka's nearby waterways. MacDonagh explained how too much water, moving too quickly, causes stream banks to erode. When land is paved over, the water that used to be retained in soils instead becomes runoff, overloading waterways and creating flood events, or turbid waters. Runoff also carries contaminants from surfaces (think fluids leaking from cars, litter, and road salts) into water bodies.

These impaired watersheds are one of many unintended consequences of our urban development. It is also something we can change. Richard Strong, who co-teaches the class with MacDonagh, explained, “This is not a river problem. It's a watershed problem. Fix the uplands and the water[way] will fix itself automatically.” With more conscientious design in urban areas, excess stormwater runoff could be mitigated with rain gardens, green roofs, and permeable pavements in strategic locations.

It is overwhelming to think about the modifications to our infrastructure that would be necessary to retain 50% of the runoff. Flood events, poor drainage, and degraded water bodies are all indicators that our current infrastructure isn't working. Without investing in the research to develop alternative solutions and forming the partnerships to apply them, we cannot change our current trajectory of unsustainable urban planning. Minnetonka and the University of Minnesota have formed a critical partnership to explore what these solutions might look like. I can't wait to see more from RCP and what promises to be a very productive partnership.

Humphrey School News: University Enters into New Partnership for Community Sustainability

University Enters Into New Partnership for Community Sustainability
Humphrey School Faculty Member at the Lead

From Humphrey School News, October/November 2012

The City of Minnetonka and the University of Minnesota will partner on the Resilient Communities Project (RCP), an initiative that will bring the expertise of hundreds of graduate students and faculty members to tackle sustainability-related projects identified by this community partner.

RCP faculty director, Humphrey School of Public Affairs associate professor Carissa Schively Slotterback, notes, “We are excited to advance an innovative and collaborative model of sustainability education that can build long-term capacity in the partner community, create new opportunities for engaged teaching for faculty members, and train the next generation of students to address the challenges of building sustainable and resilient communities.”

The partnership is the first of many anticipated in the years to come. . .

Read the entire article >> (PDF file)

Minnesota Daily: U Partners with Minnetonka

U PARTNERS WITH MINNETONKA
This is the first collaboration of many for a new outreach program

BY HAILEY COLWELL, Minnesota Daily, September 27, 2012

In an effort to make connections outside of the University of Minnesota campus, the Sustainability Education Network launched the Resilient Communities Project this semester in Minnetonka, its first partner city.

Hundreds of students and faculty members from a variety of disciplines like architecture and social policy will work with the city to complete eight sustainability projects this fall, said Mike Greco, program director for the project.

The project is supported by the Institute on the Environment and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. It's modeled after the University of Oregon's Sustainable City Year Program. . .

Read the entire article >> (PDF file)

RCP Engages Broad Range of Projects in One Community

BY BARRETT COLOMBO AND DOMINIQUE BOCZEK (photos courtesy of Kate Thompson)

When a community sets its mind to planning for resilience, the challenge usually isn’t what should happen, but how to find the resources to work toward long-term goals. This is certainly true for the City of Minnetonka, a community known for its lakes, wetlands, and thriving companies, not to mention engaged residents and committed city staff. “We can’t continue to do things the way we’ve been doing them,” said Minnetonka City Manager Geralyn Barone at the kickoff event. The world needs to change so people can begin to live their lives for the better. Minnetonka recently completed its strategic plan, which identifies a multitude of goals related to sustainability, with work plans for attaining them. In a time of constrained resources and limited staff capacity, though, implementing all of these sustainability plans can be tough.

In late August, as the summer sun descended behind Minnehaha Creek, excitement was high during a meeting at Minnetonka City Hall for the Resilient Communities Project (RCP). RCP is a new initiative that will direct the UMN’s breadth of expertise toward the City’s priorities around community resilience. “We found right at the beginning that this is a great opportunity,” Jeff Thomson, a Minnetonka city planner who coordinates the RCP effort for the city, said.

This past spring, Minnetonka was selected to be the Resilient Communities Project’s first partner city. Over the next academic year, hundreds of advanced undergraduate and graduate students will descend upon Minnetonka to suggest solutions for projects that range from developing new mid-priced housing to improved business engagement around water and energy conservation. They will produce architectural drawings and site plans, provide policy analyses, evaluate energy and water use in factories, and interview residents to understand citizen engagement. Questions range from: How would you define a neighborhood in in a community where houses are often separated by woods and wetland, to How might the storm water running off one of the state’s busiest malls be returned to its natural flow cycle?

“I’m excited that Minnetonka is considering how to make their community stronger in many ways,” said Carissa Schively Slotterback, RCP’s faculty director. “Our projects will consider issues of social resilience, in addition to environmental and economic aspects.  We are convening courses from across the University to work toward these solutions from many angles.”

RCP was developed as an advanced community-university partnership capable of convening the University’s breadth of expertise in a coordinated manner appropriate to its scale. The University of Oregon’s highly successful Sustainable Cities Initiative serves as a model for RCP, and the Oregon staff’s advice and mentorship were instrumental in advising the University of Minnesota faculty and staff in this new effort.

This fall semester, eleven courses will work in Minnetonka, including classes from disciplines like architecture, law, urban planning, public policy, natural resources, and bioproducts and biosystems engineering. The instructors will span seven of the University’s colleges and schools.

In engaging mainly advanced undergraduate and graduate students, RCP builds upon students’ prior experience in other University service learning and engagement programs. “What I’m certainly most excited about is to see the University’s unique perspective on these issues the city is facing,” explained Thomson. Many students already have plenty of experience with applied work in communities, and have a skill-level capable of delivering products of sufficient quality to get the ball rolling on key projects for the City. Thompson expects that the community “will get innovative ideas we wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. It’s a good opportunity to look at how we are already focusing on sustainability.”

Jo Colleran, natural resources manager for the City, explained that in addition to the influx of creativity and new solutions from students, the City is able to expand its network and understanding of how to connect with the University. “I think that the students are going to provide insight that we otherwise might not be able to acquire, and I also think it will bring lifelong connections for our community.”

September 14th marked the official kick-off of the event, featuring a wide variety of speakers and an overview of plans for the project. The day was bright at the Minnetonka Community center, and everyone was excited to gather and learn more. Chris Mayr from the Institute on the Environment gave an engaging speech on how students are going to change the future of sustainability. He believes that this project will not only provide help to local communities but also create “solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.” He sees this project as a great opportunity “for us to develop the next generation of leaders in sustainability.”

Schively Slotterback was excited to launch the Twitter feed and get people talking about RCP. She believes there has been a recent “increased demand and awareness” for sustainable communities partnered with “growing student interest in sustainability and resilient communities.” It seems as though everyone wants to live and work in a place that’s better for the surrounding world. As the school year continues to progress, the students will be busy thinking of sustainable ideas and researching practices. Students from the course "Building and Site Integration in Sustainable Design" have already assessed the Bassett Creek area surrounding Ridgedale Mall. Students involved in the Neighborhood Identities Project will be visiting the Minnetonka City Hall Open House on October 9. Both the University and the City are very excited to see the project begin to fully take form.

Want to learn more about sustainability initiatives from the University of Minnesota? Visit http://www.susteducation.umn.edu/

 

Lakeshore Weekly News: City Partners with U for Sustainability Projects

CITY PARTNERS WITH U FOR SUSTAINABILITY PROJECTS

by Barbara Campion, Lakeshore Weekly News, September 24, 2012

The city of Minnetonka and the University of Minnesota launched a year-long partnership that will apply the expertise of university faculty and graduate students to several sustainability-related city projects. U of M staff and students, as well of city staff and elected officials were on hand for the official kick-off of the Resilient Communities Project on Sept. 14 at the Minnetonka Community Center. Approximately 150 students from 11 university graduate courses will work with Minnetonka staff to tackle projects identified by the city as important for the health of the community.

The areas they will be working in include architecture, law, urban planning, public policy, natural resources science and management, and bioproducts and biosystems engineering. The project will provide students with the opportunity to apply their training to relevant real-world issues, while providing Minnetonka with research during an economically-difficult time.

Read full article at Lakeshore Weekly News....

Minnetonka Patch: U of M, Minnetonka partner to enhance city

U OF M, MINNETONKA PARTNER TO ENHANCE CITY

by Becky Glander, Minnetonka Patch, September 17, 2012

The city of Minnetonka and the University of Minnesota have become partners.

Minnetonka elected officials, city staff and residents joined University of Minnesota academic leaders on Sept. 14 to launch the Resilient Communities Project (RCP), an initiative that will bring the expertise of hundreds of graduate students and the University to sustainability-related projects identified by Minnetonka.

This is the pilot year for the project, and the city of Minnetonka applied and was selected. The partnership lasts for one year, but an on-going relationship will remain.

“The Resilient Communities Project is an excellent opportunity to partner with the University of Minnesota in completing some of the many projects that city council and staff have identified as important to maintaining Minnetonka’s quality of life now and into the future,” said Geralyn Barone, Minnetonka city manager. “We look forward to seeing the results of the project, and hope it will provide students with a valuable learning experience.”

Read the rest of Minnetonka Patch's story on RCP...

RCP in the News

Below are links to general news articles and blog posts about the Resilient Communities Project program. Articles about past and present RCP partnerships can be found on the individual partner pages listed under the "Communities" menu.

Star Tribune: U offering cities a new partnership to solve problems

U OFFERING CITIES A NEW PARTNERSHIP TO SOLVE PROBLEMS

by Kelly Smith, Star Tribune, September 14, 2012

It's a dilemma that cities grapple with statewide and nationwide: an aging population and other significant demographic changes, but also tighter budgets and smaller staffs to tackle "to do" lists.

Cue the next generation.

This year, dozens of graduate students at the University of Minnesota are trading classrooms for City Hall, working alongside the city staff in Minnetonka to dig up new solutions to issues -- from conserving water to attracting more mid-priced housing for younger families.

It's part of a program the university is testing in Minnetonka this year before expanding it statewide. The program, which officially starts Friday, is designed to help cities better respond to changes and sustainability problems and also to give students real-world experience.

Read the rest of the Star Tribune's article on RCP....

Resilient Communities Project Launches

BY MIKE GRECO

The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) will launch in September as an ambitious pilot effort to better connect University of Minnesota resources with communities in Minnesota interested in sustainability. The effort is an initiative of the Graduate Sustainability Education Network , a group of faculty and staff who support graduate-education programs and courses for sustainability studies within the University.  The Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA ) and the Institute on the Environment (IonE ) are providing direct support for the new initiative.

RCP is designed to support one-year partnerships between a selected city in Minnesota and the University, and facilitate faculty-supervised course-based projects that meet city-identified sustainability needs. This model of community-university engagement provides the city partner with access to hundreds of students and faculty across a range of academic disciplines, from architecture, planning, and engineering to business, environmental sciences, and the humanities. Expertise related to all aspects of sustainability―including analysis, planning, design, implementation, and evaluation―is available. In addition, the program offers students real-world opportunities to apply their knowledge and training in service to the community, as well as to engage with students in other programs and fields of study.

“We're excited to be launching this groundbreaking community service and education initiative at the University of Minnesota,” said Carissa Schively Slotterback, RCP’s faculty director and associate professor in the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “RCP responds to the needs and interests of communities, engages the expertise of faculty, and offers valuable opportunities to train the next generation of sustainability practitioners. The program offers a tremendous opportunity to build local and regional capacity for sustainability.”

For this pilot year, RCP is partnering with the City of Minnetonka, a suburban community of 49,000 people in the Twin Cities west metropolitan area. “The Resilient Communities Project is an excellent opportunity to partner with the University of Minnesota in completing some of the many projects that city council and staff have identified as important to maintaining Minnetonka’s quality of life now and into the future,” said Geralyn Barone, Minnetonka City Manager. “We look forward to seeing the results of the project, and hope it will provide students with a valuable learning experience.”

City staff have identified 17 projects with which they would like University assistance, ranging from zoning for transit-oriented development, improving stormwater management, and inventorying trees in the community to supporting creation of neighborhood associations, facilitating development of midpriced housing, and evaluating postdevelopment reactions to contentious development projects. RCP has matched about half of the projects with graduate courses from a range of departments being taught this fall at the University. Other projects will be matched with courses offered in the spring. At the conclusion of each semester, outcomes from each project will be documented in a final report and presentation to City staff.

If the fall-semester pilot proves successful, RCP expects to issue a request for proposals later this year to solicit proposals from cities interested in partnering with the University during the 2013–2014 academic year. Applicants would need to identify sustainability-related projects and staff who can serve as lead contact, and demonstrate support from senior staff and elected officials for participation in the program.

RCP is modeled on the Sustainable City Year Program , a highly successful cross-disciplinary program at the University of Oregon that supports one-year partnerships between a selected city and the University. For more information about RCP, visit www.rcp.umn.edu.

Mike Greco is program director for the Resilient Communities Project, and communications coordinator at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.

RCP–Minnetonka Kickoff Event!

September 14, 11:30 am-1 pm, Minnetonka Community Center.

The City of Minnetonka will host the kickoff for the 2012-2013 Resilient Communities Project. City of Minnetonka public officials and city staff; community leaders; and University of Minnesota faculty will celebrate the launch of an ambitious new effort in Minnesota to shape resilient communities for the future.

As the first Resilient Communities Project partner community, the City of Minnetonka and its staff identified priority issues related to the long-term resilience of the city’s neighborhoods and ecosystems.   RCP professors and students will work in Minnetonka to help address these urgent issues.  This fall over 150 students from ten courses will participate in RCP projects.  Students will bring creativity and a breadth of disciplines to bear on the projects, including architecture, landscape architecture, law, public policy, urban planning, social work, bioproducts and biosystems engineering, and program evaluation.

RCP is modeled on the Sustainable Cities Year Program at the University of Oregon, a highly successful cross-disciplinary program that supports one-year partnerships between a selected city and the university.  Like SCI, the Resilient Communities Project facilitates faculty-supervised course-based projects that meet city-identified sustainability needs.

RCP-Affiliated Faculty

RCP faculty come from departments and colleges across the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and coordinate campuses. RCP staff work closely with faculty to incorporate community projects into their courses, connect students with community stakeholders, and troubleshoot projects as needed.

Listed below are faculty who have previously included RCP projects in their courses.

Min Addy, College of Science and Engineering
minxx039@umn.edu
Course: BBE 5733: Renewable Energy Technologies

Ryan Allen, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
allen650@umn.edu | (612) 625-5670
Course: PA 5281: Immigrants, Urban Planning, and Policymaking

Kirk Allison, School of Public Health
alli0001@umn.edu | (612) 626-6559
Course: PUBH 7784: Public Health Administration and Policy Master’s Project

Abi Asojo, College of Design
aasojo@umn.edu | (612) 624-3271
Course: IDES 2604: Interior Design Studio IV

Dennis Becker, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
drbecker@umn.edu | (612) 624-7286
Course: ESPM 3242/5242: Methods for Natural Resource and Environmental Policy

Vivek Bhandari, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
bhand029@umn.edu
Course: PA 5721: Energy and Environmental Policy

Jennifer Blevins, College of Education and Human Development
blevi013@umn.edu
Course: SW 8551: Advanced Community Practice: Assessment, Organizing and Advocacy

Paul Bolstad, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
pbolstad@umn.edu | (612) 624-9711
Course: ESPM 5295: GIS in Environmental Science and Management

Zobeida Bonilla, School of Public Health
zbonilla@umn.edu | (612) 626-1733
Courses: PUBH 6630: Foundations of Maternal and Child Health; PUBH 7784: Public Health Administration and Policy Master’s Project

Tony Brown, College of Education and Human Development
tcbrown@umn.edu | (612) 626-6123
Course: REC 3281: Research and Evaluation in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies

Lyn Bruin, College of Design
mbruin@umn.edu | (612) 624-3780
Courses: HSG 5481: Promoting Independence in Housing and Community; HSG 4461: Housing Development and Management

John Bryson, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
bryso001@umn.edu | (612) 625-5888
Courses: PA 5251: Strategic Planning and Management

Fernando Burga, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
hfburga@umn.edu
Courses: PA 5211: Land Use Planning; PA 5213: Introduction to Site Planning

Jason Cao, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
cao@umn.edu | (612) 625-5671
Course: PA 8202: Networks and Places: Transportation, Land Use, and Design

John Campbell, College of Liberal Arts
campb006@umn.edu
 | (612) 625-9351
Course: PSY 5707: Personnel Psychology

Carrie Christensen, College of Design
fathm002@umn.edu
Course: DES 3331: Street Life Urban Design Seminar

Jean Coleman, Law School
colem470@umn.edu | (612) 588-4904
Course: LAW 7102: Land Use, Energy and Environment Clinic

Nancy Cook, Law School
nlcook@umn.edu
 | 612-625-1552
Course: LAW 7750: Community Practice and Policy Development

Jeffrey Crump, College of Design
jrcrump@umn.edu | (612) 624-2281
Course: HSG 5463/PA 5261: Housing Policy

Tony Damiano, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
damia025@umn.edu
Course: PA 5261: Housing Policy

Mae Davenport, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
mdaven@umn.edu | (612) 624-2721
Course: ESPM 5245: Sustainable Land Use Planning and Policy

Jessica Deegan, College of Design
Jessica.deegan@state.mn.us | (651) 297-3120
Course: HSG 5464: Understanding Housing: Assessment and Analysis

Stacy Doepner-Hove, Carlson School of Management
doepn002@umn.edu | (612) 625-8732
Courses: HRIR 8034: Employee Development–Creating a Competitive Advantage; HRIR 5992: Independent Study in Human Resources and Industrial Relations

Lisa Edstrom, School of Public Health
ledstrom@umn.edu | (612) 624-3904
Course: GERO 5105: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Aging

Joe Favour, College of Design
favou001@umn.edu
Course: LA 8554: Landscape Architecture Project Programming

Danny Frank, College of Education and Human Service (UMD)
dnfrank@d.umn.edu
Course: HPER 3100: Risk Management

Pat Frazier, College of Liberal Arts
pfraz@umn.edu | (612) 625-6863
Course: PSY 3960: Stress and Trauma

Sue Galatowitsch, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
galat001@umn.edu | (612) 624-3242
Course: HORT 5071: Ecological Restoration

Ken Gilbertson, College of Education and Human Services (UMD)
kgilbert@d.umn.edu | (218) 726-6258
Courses: EnEd 4315: Operations & Management; EnEd 5325: Environmental Issues Investigation

Edward Goetz, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
egoetz@umn.edu | (612) 624-8737
Courses: PA 5261: Housing Policy

Mike Greco, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
mgreco@umn.edu | (612) 625-7501
Course: PA 8081: Land Use and Transportation Planning Capstone

Julie Grossman, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
jgross@umn.edu | (612) 625-8597
Course: FDSY 4101: Holistic Approaches to Improving Food Systems Sustainability

Samantha Grover, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
sgrover@umn.edu | (612) 624-4742
Course: SUST 4004: Sustainable Communities

Todd Grover, College of Design
grov0009@umn.edu
Course: ARCH 5672: Historic Building Conservation

John Gulliver, College of Science and Engineering
gulli003@umn.edu | (612) 625-4080
Course: CE 5511: Urban Hydrology and Water Quality

Andy Guthrie, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
guth0064@umn.edu | 612-624-2080
Course: PA 5232: Transportation Policy, Planning, and Deployment

Katherine Hayes, College of Liberal Arts
kathayes@umn.edu | 612-626-7482
Course: ANTH 8777: Archaeology Master’s Thesis

David Hollister, School of Social Work
dhollist@umn.edu | (612) 624-3695
Course: PA 8203: Neighborhood Revitalization

Keith Horvath, School of Public Health
khorvath@umn.edu | (612) 626-1799
Course: PUBH 7094: Culminating Experience: Community Health Promotion

Gary Johnson, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
johns054@umn.edu
| (612) 625-3765
Course: FR 4501/5501: Research Problems: Urban Forestry—Biology and Management

Nick Jordan, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
jorda020@umn.edu | (612) 625-3754
Course: AGRO 5321: Ecology of Agricultural Systems

John Kammeyer-Mueller, Carlson School of Management
jkammeye@umn.edu | (612) 624-4171
Course: HRIR 6301: Staffing, Training, and Development

Steve Kelly, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
kelle644@umn.edu | (612) 626-6629
Course: PA 5712: Science to Action: All Paths

Lisa Kihl, College of Liberal Arts
lkihl@umn.edu | (612) 624-3150
Course: SMGT 3881W: Senior Seminar in Sport Management

Jean King, College of Education and Human Development
kingx004@umn.edu | (612) 626-1614
Courses: OLPD 5501: Principles and Methods of Evaluation; OLDP 8595: Evaluation Problems

Debra Lawton, College of Design
dllawton@umn.edu | (612) 624-2254
Course: GDES 3352: Identity and Symbols

Petrona Lee, School of Public Health
leex3143@umn.edu | (651) 624-1818
Course: PH 6100: Topics in Environmental Health: Urban Ecosystems

David Levinson, College of Science and Engineering
levin031@umn.edu | (612) 625-6354
Course: CEGE 3201: Introduction to Transportation Engineering

Lyssa Leitner, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
leit0056@umn.edu
Course: PA 8081: Economic Development Capstone

Greg Lindsey, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
linds301@umn.edu | (612) 625-3375
Courses: PA 8081: Master of Public Affairs Capstone; PA 8081: Planning and Public Affairs Capstone

Emilce Lopez, College of Liberal Arts
lopez008@umn.edu |
Course: SPAN 3404: Medical Spanish and Community Health Services

Geoff Maas, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
maas0021@umn.edu
Course: PA 5271: GIS: Applications in Planning and Policy Analysis

Peter MacDonagh, College of Design
pmacdonagh@tkdg.net | (952) 928-9600 x 10
Course: ARCH 8567 Building and Site Integration in Sustainable Design

Scott Martens, Carlson School
marte023@umn.edu | 612-624-7010
Course: MBA 6220: Operations Management

Lauren Martin, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
mart2114@umn.edu | (612) 624-0435
Course: PA 8203: Neighborhood Revitalization

Jeff Matson, College of Liberal Arts
jmatson@umn.edu | (612) 625-0081
Course: GEOG 5564: Urban GIS

Donna McAlpine, School of Public Health
mcalp004@umn.edu | (612) 625-9919
Course: PUBH 7784: Public Health Administration and Policy Master’s Project

Cindy McComas, College of Science and Engineering
mccom003@umn.edu | (612) 624-1300
Course: ESPM 3606W/5606 Pollution Prevention: Principles, Technologies, and Practices

Neeraj Mehta, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
nmehta@umn.edu | (612) 624-8988
Course: PA 8203: Neighborhood Revitalization Strategies and Theories

Dan Milz, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
dmilz@umn.edu
Course: PA 5253: Planning and Participation Processes

Leah Moses, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
Course: PA 5311: Program Evaluation

Lee Munnich, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
munni001@umn.edu | (612) 625-7357
Course: PA 8081: Economic Development Capstone; PA 5590: Topics in Economic and Community Development

Amir Nadav, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
anadav@umn.edu
Course: SUST 4004: Sustainable Communities

Randi Nelson, College of Education and Human Development
nelso326@umn.edu
Course: OLPD 5501: Principles and Methods of Evaluation

Lena Norrman, College of Liberal Arts
norrman@umn.edu
Course: SCAN 3504: Emigration, Immigration, Integration: The Nordic Experience

Deniz Ones, College of Liberal Arts
onesx001@umn.edu
 | (612) 625-4551
Courses: PSY 5701: Employee Selection and Staffing; PSY 5707: Personnel Psychology

Rosemarie Park, College of Education and Human Development
parkx002@umn.edu | (612) 625-6267
Courses: OLPD 5296: Field Experience in Adult Education; OLPD 5696: Internship—Human Resource Development

Chris Paola, College of Science and Engineering
cpaola@umn.edu | (612) 624-8025
Course: CEGE 8602: Stream Restoration Practice

Mark Pedelty, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
pedeltmh@umn.edu | (612) 624-7036
Course: COMM 5110: Environmental Communication

Kathy Quick, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
ksquick@umn.edu | (612) 625-2025
Courses: PA 8081: Participating in Policy and Planning Capstone Workshop, PA 5145: Civic Participation in Public Affairs

Stacy Remke, School of Social Work
remke005@umn.edu | (612) 625-0259
Course: SW 8251: Social Work Practice in Health, Disabilities, and Aging

Hyejoon Rim, College of Liberal Arts
hrim@umn.edu | (612) 624-2491
Course: JOUR 4263: Strategic Communication Campaigns

Stephen Rose, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
roses@umn.edu
Course: PA 5721: Energy and Environmental Policy

Jodi Sandfort, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
sandf002@umn.edu | (612) 625-3536
Course: PA 5311: Program Evaluation

Carissa Schively Slotterback, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
cschively@umn.edu | (612) 625-0640
Course: PA 5242: Environmental Planning, Policy, and Decision Making; PA 5253: Planning and Participation Processes

Ingrid Schneider, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
ingridss@umn.edu | (612) 624-2250
Courses: FNRM 5101: Park and Protected Area Tourism

Matt Simcik, School of Public Health
msimcik@umn.edu
Phone: (612) 626-6269
Course: PH 6100: Topics in Environmental Health: Urban Ecosystems

Virajita Singh, College of Design
singh023@umn.edu | (612) 625-3447
Course: LS 5993: Design Thinking Lab

Ying Song, College of Liberal Arts
yingsong@umn.edu | (612) 625-2056
Course: GEOG 5564: Urban GIS and Analysis

Jamie Stang, School of Public Health
stang002@umn.edu | (612) 626-0351 | (612) 624-1818
Course: PUBH 7696: Field Experience: Maternal and Child Health

Bob Streetar, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
rstreeta@umn.edu
Course: PA 5511: Community Economic Development

Richard Strong, College of Design
stron081@umn.edu | (612) 624-7327
Course: ARCH 8567 Building and Site Integration in Sustainable Design

Dan Sward, College of Liberal Arts
sward001@umn.edu | (612) 624-2110
Course: GIS 8990: Research Problems in GIS

Catherine Twohig, College of Education and Human Development
twoh0001@umn.edu | (612) 624-7463
Course: OLPD 5204: Designing Adult Education Programs

Roslye Ultan, College of Continuing Education
ultan001@umn.edu
Course: LS 5100: Revitalizing Environmental Reform: Re-Imagining the Arts for Public Parks

Ross VeLure-Roholt, College of Education and Human Development
rossvr@umn.edu | (612) 625-1220
Course: YOST 5032: Adolescent and Youth Development for Youthworkers

Vaughn Voller, College of Science and Engineering
volle001@umn.edu | (612) 625-0764
Course: CEGE 8602: Stream Restoration Practice

Angela Wang, College of Design
atank@umn.edu | (612) 626-5906
Course: DES 3131: User Experience in Design

Eric Watkins, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
ewatkins@umn.edu | (612) 624-7496
Courses: HORT 4061W: Turfgrass Management; HORT 4062: Turfgrass Weed and Disease Science; HORT 4063: Turfgrass Science

Betsy Wattenberg, School of Public Health
watte004@umn.edu | (612) 626-0184
Courses: PH 6100: Topics in Environmental Health: Urban Ecosystems; PUBH 7194: Culminating Experience: Environmental Health

James Wheeler, College of Design
whee0113@umn.edu
Course: ARCH 3250: Community Design Practice Workshop

Beth Virnig, School of Public Health
virni001@umn.edu | 612-624-4426
Course: PUBH 7784: Public Health Administration and Policy Master’s Project

Elizabeth Wilson, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
ewilson@umn.edu | (612) 626-4410
Courses: PA 5721: Energy and Environmental Policy

Neal Young, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
youn0336@umn.edu
Course: PA 5512: Workforce and Economic Development

Becky Yust, College of Design
byust@umn.edu
 | (612) 624-7461
Course: HSG 4461: Housing Development and Management

What is RCP?

Communities across Minnesota are constantly evolving in response to their unique local challenges and opportunities. The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is a highly successful, cross-disciplinary program at the University of Minnesota designed to build community capacity to survive, adapt, and thrive in the face of changing social, economic, and environmental conditions. Our mission is to connect local government agencies in Minnesota with U of M students and faculty to advance community resilience and student learning through collaborative, course-based projects.

Each year, RCP selects a partner community (typically a city or county) through a competitive request-for-proposals process to embark on a 15- to 18-month partnership with the U of MN. Working with local government staff and community stakeholders in the selected partner community, RCP helps to identify 10–25 projects designed to build community resilience around locally identified environmental, social, economic, and livability issues and needs. RCP strategically connects each project with graduate and professional courses and students at the University of Minnesota who can provide research or technical assistance to drive change—by bringing innovative ideas and solutions to the table, gathering and analyzing local data, sparking community discussions, and facilitating new collaborations.

Students participate in RCP by enrolling in an RCP-affiliated course, or by connecting an individual thesis, capstone, field experience, or directed study to an RCP project. The program offers students opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills to real community problems and issues, as well as to engage with students in other fields of study.Local government staff and community stakeholders work closely with faculty and students to provide local knowledge and deeper insight into the issues, ensuring projects are not only innovative, but also relevant to the community context.

Outcomes from each University course are documented in a final report and presentation at the conclusion of the semester. Project results are shared with the partner community, and disseminated through the RCP website for use by other communities in Minnesota.

RCP is a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota, and is a cofounding member of the national Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) Network. RCP was begun as an initiative of the Graduate Sustainability Education Network at the University of Minnesota, and received initial support from a two-year Discovery Grant from the University's Institute on the Environment.

Students

RCP-affiliated courses allow the opportunity to apply your skills to a project identified as a high priority for advancing community sustainability. Graduate and professional students and advanced undergraduates can participate in RCP by enrolling in an RCP-affiliated course, or through connecting an individual thesis, capstone, or independent study. Please contact RCP program staff at rcp@umn.edu to discuss connecting your individual work to an RCP project.

Students work with city officials--and, where appropriate, other community stakeholders such as local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and local residents--to develop their projects. Because RCP courses work closely with the community to make sure the work is aligned with their needs, there is great potential for student work to be implemented.

Faculty

Cedar Creek

RCP offers faculty an opportunity to integrate a meaningful community-based sustainability project into their courses. Faculty can connect an entire course (i.e., a capstone, lab, or design studio) or an existing class project assignment within a course to a real-world project identified by our partner community. RCP staff help facilitate the connection between faculty members and their courses, and the project needs identified by the partner community. View a list of faculty who have previously partnered with RCP.

For faculty, RCP provides:

  • Access to a community partner that has identified live projects that are core to local or regional priorities;
  • Project scoping and facilitation between the faculty member and city project lead;
  • Logistical support, data transfer, and reimbursement for project expenses to support the course project; and
  • Opportunities for faculty and students to highlight and share their work on resilience and sustainability.

RCP was catalyzed by, and is an initiative of, the Sustainability Faculty Network, a grassroots organization of faculty interested in advancing opportunities for sustainability education at the University of Minnesota. RCP receives financial and in-kind support from the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and the Institute on the Environment (IonE).

2012–2013 Partner: Minnetonka

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For its 2012–2013 inaugural year, the Resilient Communities Project partnered with the City of Minnetonka. Located in Hennepin County just eight miles west of Minneapolis, Minnetonka is a fully developed suburban community of 49,374 residents (2010 Census), making it the 17th largest city in Minnesota. Like many developed communities, Minnetonka is experiencing change at the beginning of the 21st century—from an aging population, growing traffic congestion, and threats to water quality to new immigrant residents, redevelopment opportunities, and the prospect of a new light-rail line.

During the 2012–2013 academic year, RCP collaborated with Minnetonka to complete 14 projects that engaged 25 classes and more than 200 students across eight schools and colleges at the University of Minnesota, all focused on advancing community sustainability and resilience. You can view a summary of the partnership and projects, or visit the Minnetonka Projects page to see a more detailed list of projects and the work that students produced.

RCP-Minnetonka Partnership in the News:

  • Humphrey School News, May/June 2013, Humphrey School Students Work to Help Cities Become More Sustainable
  • Sun Sailor, Jan 9, 2013.  Resilient Communities Project Meeting Jan 12 in Minnetonka
  • Eye on Earth, January 7, 2013.  Putting the "U" in Community
  • Humphrey News, October/November 2012, University Enters into New Partnership for Community Sustainability
  • Minnesota Daily, September 27, 2012, U Partners with Minnetonka
  • NextStep e-newsletter, September 27, 2012, Resilient Communities Project
  • Lakeshore Weekly News, September 24, 2012, City Partners with U for Sustainability Projects
  • Minnetonka Patch, September 17, 2012, U of M, Minnetonka Partner to Enhance City
  • UMN News Release, September 14, 2012, Minnetonka, University of Minnesota Partner to Educate Students and Boost Community Resilience
  • Star Tribune, September 14, 2012, U Offering Cities a New Partnership to Solve Problems
  • UMN Media Advisory, September 13, 2012, University of Minnesota Resilient Communities Project Minnetonka Kicks Off Friday, Sept. 14

Home

The Resilient Communities Project connects
local government agencies in Minnesota with
University of Minnesota faculty and students to
advance community resilience and student learning through
collaborative, course-based projects.

2018-2019 Community Partners: Scott County and Ramsey County 

Scott County and Ramsey County have been selected as RCP's community partners for the 2018-2019 academic year

Photo of Scott County Gov Center

Scott County is a rapidly growing and diversifying area in the southwestern Twin Cities metropolitan area known for its blend of urban, suburban, and rural environments complemented by spectacular natural resources and a rich cultural history. RCP will partner with Scott County on 14 projects, including investigating self-serve libraries, planting edible landscapes, diversifying agricultural production, fostering employer-assisted housing, and planning for autonomous vehicles.
Learn more >>

Photo of Ramsey County Gov Center

Ramsey County is located in the heart of the Twin Cities metropolitan area and is home to the state’s capital, Saint Paul, a vibrant local economy, and about 10% of Minnesota’s population. RCP will partner with Ramsey County on 15 projects, including removing transportation barriers to employment, building resilience among youth and vulnerable populations, strengthening collaboration on climate resilience, reducing food waste and food insecurity, and increasing voter participation. 
Learn more >> 

Apply Now to Become the Next RCP Community Partner!

Photo of coffee and application

Cities, counties, tribal governments, and regional governments or partnerships in Minnesota are eligible to participate. Check out our request for proposals to apply for the 2019-2020 RCP partnership, or contact us for more information about the program. Staff are available to explain how the program works or arrange a presentation to senior staff or elected officials. The deadline for proposals for the 2019-2020 partnership year is Friday, February 15, 2019.
Learn more>>

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