Archive for the ‘ Sustainable Communities ’ Category

Second Annual Urban Agriculture Bus Tour


Tuesday, August 31st, 2010, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Meet at University of Minnesota’s UROC (Urban Research and Outreach & Engagement Center), 2001 Plymouth Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411

Last year, the University of Minnesota Extension, the Minnesota NCR-SARE program and the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture collaborated to host a tour of urban agriculture projects in the Twin Cities area.

We had a terrific mix of attendees from the University and public offices (city, state and county), along with practitioners and nonprofits working in sustainable agriculture. Participants on the tour were both learners and teachers, sharing their expertise with the rest of the group. Our objective last year was to bring people together around urban farming and deepen our knowledge, collective resources and ultimate impact.

Attendees were enthusiastic about the day and suggested planning another tour, combined with more opportunity for discussion. This year’s tour will focus on urban agriculture enterprises, and address land access issues. The stops represent a range of entrepreneurial efforts, both in terms of scale and stage of development. We’ll explore rooftops, parking lots, mixed-use developments and neighborhood-based innovations led by urban farmers.

If you’d like to join the tour, please click here and provide your contact information. Cost is $10 (to be paid on day of tour) to cover the cost of lunch. We will confirm your participation within a few days of receipt of your registration. Bus space is limited so please register early.

If you cannot attend the entire day but are interested in meeting the tour as time permits, let us know and we will provide you with a tentative itinerary. We would be happy to have you join us.

Questions? Please contact either Beth Nelson or Barb Grossman.

Community Roundtable

Organizer Roundtable

About 30 people attended the Organizer Roundtable on the Building Sustainable Communities project.

More than 30 attendees from 22 organizations gathered at the Model Cities Communities Room on University Avenue on February 24, 2010, to hear impassioned community leaders share their raw experiences — the triumphs and the difficulties — in realizing the true meaning of collaboration.

Collaboration, in this case, meant creating neighborhood-centric, multi-partner coalitions aligned with the Building Sustainable Communities initiative supported by Twin Cities LISC.

As part of a monthly roundtable series organized by the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, the event, titled “Community Partnerships for Success,” drew excellent attendance according to Joan Vanhala, coalition organizer with AMS.

“I appreciated the different leaders who talked honestly about their challenges in working with coalitions towards one common goal,” said Vanhala.

Those leaders included Mari Bongiovanni, executive director, East Side Neighborhood Development Company; Staci Horwitz, program director, City of Lakes Community Land Trust; Cathy Maes, executive director, ICA Food Shelf; Judy Elling, executive director of ResourceWest in Hopkins; and Nieeta Presley, executive director, Aurora/St. Anthony Community Development Corporation.

During the two-hour session, leaders outlined the formulation of their collaborative, conveying both excitement and frustration in the challenges and rewards of developing cross-sector partnerships.

“I can see that in the different presentations, we’re at different levels of maturity, and we all came out in completely different ways,” said Bongiovanni. “We [St Paul’s East Side] needed to sit at the table for quite a while.”

After four years, Bongiovanni admitted her collaborative is still working on finding a comprehensive voice, which has slightly fragmented recently due to resident churn in a tough economy. That said, she noted the effort put forth in a multi-year process that started with informational meetings and evolved into 64 organizations sitting at a table calling each other to ask for advice and referrals.

“That was a big step,” she said. “Before we were all in our little silos and hoping that we would get funded and others wouldn’t because that would be more money for us.”

The next Organizer Roundtable will be “Race, Power and Organizing,” which will address the dynamics of race in day-to-day life, and how to integrate racial equity in campaign focus.

Race, Power and Organizing

Noon – 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 31
Rondo Community Library
461 N. Dale St.
St. Paul, MN 55103

Building Sustainable Communities Roundtable

LISC logoJoin Model Cities, the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Aurora/St. Anthony NDC and other Frogtown Rondo Action Network partners at an Organizer Roundtable — Community Partnerships for Success: Building Sustainable Communities from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, February 24, at Model Cities Community Room, 839 University Avenue, Saint Paul. (Map/Directions or Transit Planner)

In 2007, the Twin Cities was chosen by the national Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to carry out a Building Sustainable Communities demonstration to promote more integrated and comprehensive approaches to community development. Twin Cities LISC is implementing the project with a focus on five areas: St. Paul’s East Side, the Central Corridor, Minneapolis’ north and south sides, and the suburban community of Hopkins. They chose these areas because each offers a multitude of potential partners, opportunities and issues.

Come hear from community leaders involved in the program about their efforts to direct resources toward community-based projects already under way that would otherwise be constrained by limited means and abilities. Join in the dialogue about how innovative partnerships like this can leverage resources for community projects.

Organizer Roundtables are free but registration is required. Light snacks will be provided. Feel free to bring your lunch.

Green Jobs a Real Opportunity to Restore City’s Economy

Majora Carter, the MacArthur Genius Award recipient, founder of Sustainable South Bronx and president of the Marjora Carter Consulting Group that focuses on “green collar” jobs, believes the way we do business is simply not sustainable. In her round of public appearances and speeches, Carter, the keynote speaker at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Forum at St. Olaf College, made a vital assessment that we can restore the economy and alleviate poverty with the same thing, the environment.

As Carter stands at the wooden dais on a tall and extended stage in the St. Olaf College auditorium, she spreads her arms wide with a warm smile, a sort of embrace to the largely white audience in a small Midwest town and states, “Green is the new Black!” She quickly follows with, “What do I mean by this? Regardless of how poor you are, or what color, you have an inherent beauty and you should be able to look outside and see that too.”

Environmental Justice Advocate Majora Carter

Environmental Justice Advocate Majora Carter

We must, she said, invest in the people we’ve given up, thrown away and literally dumped on.  This echoes what Nieeta Presley of the Aurora/St. Anthony NDC argues about the Central Corridor: “This project should be based on neighborhoods instead of the metropolitan or statewide governments.”  Creating projects based on communities, neighborhoods and the people is the alternative strategy that Carter focuses on to move from a polluting economy to a people-based economy.  It is what Carter refers to as “Greening the Ghetto.”

Environmental justice is an increasingly important element of policy-making in transportation. As the Central Corridor LRT approaches and “green branding” increases, it is imperative that social, economic, and environmental goals not be separated, but approached holistically by asking the right questions and stipulating the importance of exploring race and class as inextricably linked to the entire health of the community.

— By Ashanti Austin

New Book by Community Reporter


Sustainable Communities reporter Jake Kulju has a new book: “Moon’s Take a Hike Minneapolis & St. Paul/Hikes within Two Hours of the Twin Cities,” was published in May and is available in paperback at local bookstores and sporting good stores.

From the publisher:

“The landscape of Minneapolis and St. Paul is a mix of lakes, rivers, expansive wetlands, evergreen forests, and grassy prairies. Because of the abundance of scenery around the city, hiking in the Twin Cities is more than just a trek around the town. Hiking enthusiast and local Jake Kulju shows you the best hikes in and around Minneapolis and St. Paul. All hikes within the guide take less than 2 hours to reach by car, with details on public transportation options and clear directions on how to reach the trailhead.”

Jake has more than three years of professional outdoor writing experience for the regional Minnesota publication Outdoor Traditions and the national magazine Naturescape News. His extensive knowledge of the Twin Cities area comes from being both a native of the state, and an avid, regular hiker and outdoorsman who is frequently on the local trails.
Read more about the book here.

Anti-Gentrification Conference

Sushma Sheth, a longtime community organizer and racial justice activist, was keynote speaker for “Stay in Place and Thrive: Community Forum on Resisting Gentrification” at the Lao Family Community Center in Saint Paul on April 16. A native of Miami, born to immigrant parents from India, Sheth was awarded the New Voices Fellowship by the Academy for Educational Development in 2002, a Miami Fellowship by the Dade Community Foundation in 2006, and was named one of Miami’s 25 Power Women in 2006. This year, Sushma Sheth was named a Paul and Daisy Soros New American Fellow.

“Stay in Place and Thrive” was sponsored by the Preserve and Benefit Historic Rondo Committee, the Asian Economic Development Association, and the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability in response to the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Line.

— By Ashanti Austin

No place like home

MCASA, a partnership between Model Cities Community Development Corp. and Aurora St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corp., seeks to create affordable home ownership opportunities for low-income families and works with home ownership counselors to provide guidance and assistance to participants in moving toward homeownership. HomeStretch classes, which cost $25, will be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Brownstone Building, 849 University Ave., on the following dates: April 18 and 25; May 2 and 9; May 16 and 23; June 20 and 27. For more information, call Brenda Bailey at (651) 632-8350 or email her.