Archive for May, 2010

Energy Smart Homes

City of St. Paul LogoThe City of Saint Paul has launched the $550,000 Energy Smart Homes loan and rebate initiative that will provide Saint Paul residents with the tools to lower energy consumption and cut costs.

By renovating our homes and replacing old appliances, a person will save money and decrease energy usage in Saint Paul. This is one more way the City is improving building efficiency, lowering energy costs, and protecting our environment while solidifying Saint Paul as a national leader in environmental sustainability.

This initiative is made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. Energy Smart Homes will provide funding for energy-saving improvements to houses and apartment buildings, thereby lowering monthly utility bills to residents, strengthening the City’s tax base, and reducing the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Energy Smart Homes will also create jobs, a key component of ARRA, by creating a need for contractors, including heating and insulation contractors.

Energy Smart Homes is a two-pronged initiative. $500,000 will be used to make no-interest loans up to $6,500 to homeowners to make energy-saving improvements to their homes. These funds will also leverage Xcel Energy rebates. Prior to making the improvements, each home will undergo a home energy audit to identify the greatest needs.

Eligible expenses may include furnace replacement, insulation and air sealing.

Saint Paul homeowners of all incomes are eligible to apply, though incomes will affect the loan amounts and other initiative requirements.

Another aspect of the initiative is “Cool Cash for Cold Clunkers,” which consists of cash rebates for owners of apartment buildings in Saint Paul who replace old inefficient refrigerators in their rental units with new ENERGY STAR refrigerators.

By replacing a refrigerator from the 1980s with an ENERGY STAR refrigerator could save as much as $100 each year on utility bills.

Energy Smart Homes will provide up to ten $200 rebates to owners of apartment buildings. And while the building owner will benefit from the cash rebates, many tenants will realize the monthly savings resulting from lower utility bills.

Pre-applications must be postmarked by June 11. Individuals will be selected by June 17. Selected homeowners seeking funds for energy-saving improvements will be invited to complete a full application and selected apartment building owners seeking refrigerator rebates will be notified and informed of the process for receiving their rebates.

If you would like more details, including eligibility conditions and other requirements, go to www.stpaul.gov or call 651-266-6655 for a pre-application.

On a related note, if you are a non-profit, neighborhood or business association, you may be able to take advantage of our new Energy Challenge Grants initiative. The initiative will give non-profit organizations, neighborhood and business associations the opportunity to receive Federal stimulus funds for projects that will assist Saint Paul residents and businesses in reducing their energy use and climate change impact.

Organizations must utilize the funds for projects that promote either the Neighborhood Energy Connection’s Home Energy Squads, Center for Energy and Environment’s One-Stop Efficiency Shop Program, the Minnesota Energy Challenge or other successful cost-effective energy efficiency and conservation programs.

Eligible applicants may request up to $5,000 for projects completed by June 30, 2011. Applications for the Energy Challenge Grants must be received by June 14, 2010.

For profit businesses are not eligible.

If you are interested in this initiative, visit the Sustainable Saint Paul website at: www.stpaul.gov/sustainability or call 651-266-8520.

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Transit Workshop

Transit meeting

Community engagement continues to be a central issue in development and planning. When engagement is poorly managed, community members may feel an incoming assault in their neighborhoods, which can make or break a project.

“A lot of folks have anxiety about builders coming into their community,” said Leslie Moody, executive director of the Denver-based Partnership for Working Families, while presenting to an audience of over 100 participants on May 11 as part of a workshop focused on developing transit-oriented districts and walkable communities.

Held at the Wilder Foundation, the workshop, titled Equitable Development and Community Benefits, was the third in a four-part series. The session centered on leveraging a community benefits model, which builds relationships between the community, the developer and the city.

“We want the public involved in government,” said Moody. “Having active civic engagement in these processes is the way to get people to understand government and support it.”

Not all communities are created equal as pointed out by Gretchen Nicholls of the Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a leading sponsor of the event series.

“Community is a term we use very easily, although it’s a very complex idea,” she said.

After Moody’s presentation, participants shared success stories from their local areas and discussed topics related to points of influence in planning, timing mismatch, connecting on different priorities, and engaging communities over time.

A panel of local community organizers offered perspective. The panel included Russ Adams, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability; Gretchen Nicholls, LISC / Corridor Development Initiative; Malik Holt-Shabazz, Harrison Neighborhood Association; Mihailo (Mike) Temali, Neighborhood Development Center; Jonathan Sage Martinson, Central Corridor Funders Collaborative; and Brian Miller, Seward Redesign.

Common themes involved engaging developers early on, the role of small business, and ensuring community involvement beyond planning and throughout implementation.

Event sponsors included Twin Cities LISC, Metropolitan Council, Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, Center for Transit-Oriented Development, Urban Land Institute and The McKnight Foundation.

The last workshop, Financing of Transit-Oriented Districts – Building Public/Private Partnerships will be from 9 a.m. to noon June 15 at Dorsey & Whitney, 50 S. 6th Street, Minneapolis. For registration details, email Gretchen Nicholls.

Gordon Parks Project Premier

Gordon Parks. Courtesy Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library

You’re invited to the first annual Media Arts Premier for the “Transitions: University Avenue” project.  Meet the students, interview subjects, community members and teachers who are making this project possible. The event will begin at noon May 26 at Gordon Parks High School, 1212 University Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55102. Driving Directions

The “Transitions” project combines audio interviews and photography to document the before, during and after of Central Corridor Light Rail Transit development on University Avenue. The project has  interviewed more than 10 community elders.  The project’s “soundslides” will be featured on a website created by the Minnesota Historical Society.

Community listening/brainstorming sessions last winter sparked numerous ideas about how best to serve the needs of students and community through this project. At this premier students will show off a portion of their completed soundslides; the production crew (made up of students, teachers, community members) will describe the production process they’ve used for the project; and we’ll share lunch together, catered by Arnellia’s and Golden Thyme.

Brotherhood, Inc. Event

The Community Justice Project, along with the Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, will be holding a community gathering for Brotherhood, Inc. on the afternoon of Friday, June 4, at ASANDC’s patio, 774 University Ave. The event starts at 2 pm with a short program at 4 pm. Please, come meet us on the patio to learn more about Brotherhood, Inc. and all of its exciting plans!

Brotherhood, Inc.’s mission is to empower African American youth and young adults to envision and achieve successful futures. We seek to break the debilitating cycle of crime and poverty ensnaring African American youth and young adults in the Twin Cities by providing services and support to facilitate permanent lifestyle change. Our goal is to take a holistic approach to community-building through comprehensive, culturally-sensitive social services, educational opportunities and on-site employment.

RSVP by calling ASANDC at 651-222-0399 ext. 100.

Put On Your Thinking Caps

Classroom

Help us inspire students

Creative minds of St. Paul and Minneapolis, we need your help. Action Team of St. Paul and Minneapolis are seeking quotes with art or a picture that will uplift our African American children in education. This display will be mounted for Metropolitan Billboards and Metro Transit buses, going into our 2010-2011 school year. These pictures and quotes must send a clear, positive message that can uplift, inspire and encourage our children in and around education. The messages will be on display for four weeks on local buses and billboards.

Please send your ideas and quotes to:

Mentoring Young Adults/IDEAS
550 Rice Street Ste. 103
St. Paul, MN 55103
651-222-7721

For more information, send email here or here.

The winner will receive a $100 cash prize from Mentoring Young Adults. Deadline for entries is June 30.

Homebuyer Education

Homebuyer education and counseling, known as the Home Stretch Program, is coordinated by the Minnesota Home Ownership Center and delivered by local, non-profit, community-based organizations. Home Stretch eight-hour workshops offer education about the home buying process and cover credit and budgeting; qualifying for a loan; special loan programs; shopping for a new home; home inspections; maintaining your home; and successful home ownership.

Classes sponsored by Model Cities, in partnership with Aurora/St. Anthony NDC, will be held at the Brownstone Building, 849 University Ave. in St. Paul from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the following Saturdays (participants attend two sessions):

May 15 and 22; June 5, 12, 19 and 26; July 10, 17, 24 and 31;  August 7, 14, 21 and 28; September 4, 11, 18 and 25; October 2, 9, 16 and 23; November 6 and 13; December 4 and 11.

For more information about Home Stretch classes, contact Brenda Bailey at Model Cities,  651-632-8350 or by email.