February 2010

Looks like a good event…

I wanted to make you aware of an important upcoming Digital Inclusion Summit, at the Maplewood Performing Arts Theatre, sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Please HOLD THE MORNING OF MARCH 9, 2010 and assist me by sharing this message with other local government, economic development, community, public safety, healthcare, education, arts and business leaders who may attend. Everyone is welcome!

The digital age is creating an information and communications renaissance. But, due to limited access to affordable broadband and a widening gap in adequate digital literacy training and adoption, it is not serving all Americans and their local communities equally. The economic downturn of 2008 added urgency to all this concern. The needs are great. The time has come for new and aggressive action to dramatically improve the individual and community opportunities available in Minnesota and across America. How we react, individually and collectively, to this shortfall will affect the quality of our lives and the very nature of our communities. It is time to re-examine our roles as citizens in the digital age. We have a unique opportunity to leverage innovation and effective collaboration to expand broadband availability and adoption now. Creating informed communities is a task for everyone.

America’s Digital Inclusion Summit
Working Together To Expand Opportunity Through Universal Broadband Access

Tuesday, March 9th from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM Central Time

Live Webcast followed by a Community Conversation at Maplewood Performing Arts Theatre

Join the Federal Communications Commission and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for an overview of the recommendations in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan meant to ensure that all Americans are included in the broadband era. As the FCC prepares to deliver the Plan to Congress on March 17th, hear perspectives from Chairman Genachowski, members of Congress, Knight Foundation President & CEO Alberto Ibargüen and people from across the country that have benefited from broadband. Help create solutions that drive broadband adoption for all Americans.

Live at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC
Videocast at the FCC Commission Room, 445 12th SW, Washington DC
Webcast at the Maplewood Performing Arts Theatre, 2100 White Bear Avenue, Maplewood, MN
Map and Directions

Best Regards,


James Farstad
Knight Foundation Consultant

612.279.1175 (Voice/Fax)
612.669.2318 (Mobile)


February 2010 – Volume VIII, Number 2 compiled and edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy & Jane Leonard

EDITORS’ NOTE:  Please forgive the lack of any special formatting or graphics.  Jane is sending you this edition from Australia, and doesn’t have access to her whizbang usual method of distributing the newsletter. 


ACROSS THE FIELD – Gathering Sheep and Sharing Ideas in Rural Australia by Jane Leonard

After three years of planning and saving enough personal funding to take a sabbatical to Rural Australia, here I am in Hamilton, Victoria, Australia (a regional center town, population about 10,000 in the western part of Victoria, an Australian state much the same size and population as Minnesota).

I am working with colleagues at the RMIT University center in Hamilton, all of whom are doing research and outreach on and with rural communities in this region, in such arenas as regional development, entrepreneurship, youth development, and health care. Stepping away from the U.S. and Minnesota for a bit is already bringing insights and ideas for home, and great connections with fellow researchers and practitioners here.

Tonight during supper at our home away from home, we were also called on to help herd some escapee sheep back into the neighboring paddock.

Hamilton is known as the wool growing capital of the world — so it was good to experience some of those economic engines up close.

Back home, we continue to gather and herd good ideas and experiences in Rural Urban Connections, the project MRP, Inc. is heading up in partnership with USDA Rural Development. Please check the project website for ways you can participate, in video conferences and the blog, at www.rurb.mn.

The United Nations is also keenly interested in rural urban connections — here’s why:

Two items From the United Nation’s Development Programme Rural-Urban Connections Analysis

1. The benefits of taking a rural-urban linkages framework: 

– Breaking rural to urban poverty cycles
– Generating positive rural urban synergies
– Environmental Sustainability
– More resilient local, regional and national economies
– Governance Structures appropriate to spatial realities

2. “Urban and rural problems are part and parcel of the same phenomenon.

One has causal links to the other.   Categorising one issue as urban only

and the other exclusively as rural ignores their interdependencies and can exacerbate problems….Instead of only treating the effects, a joint move will facilitate looking into the cause and devise ways to counter the issue in a complementing manner.”

And finally, a nod to other great ideas at home: MINNESOTA COMPASS

The recently released Minnesota Compass gives everyone in our state – policymakers, business and community leaders, and concerned individuals who live and work here – a common foundation to identify, understand, and act on community issues that affect our communities.  It does this by: 

•     Providing unbiased, credible information
•     Tracking trends and measuring progress on issues that impact our quality of life.
•     Identifying disparities by including trend data by race, age, gender and income whenever possible.
•     Providing additional resources for addressing issues.

Now find data, analysis, commentary and resources for action for all of Minnesota’s 87 counties, 7 regions, and the state as a whole. To find your geographic area of interest, click on the map on the homepage, or browse the pull-down menus in the top right corner. http://www.mncompass.org/


–New Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund Grant Opportunities.  The Minnesota State Arts Board announced seven new grant programs that will support arts and arts access, arts learning, and arts and cultural heritage across the state, and will give Minnesotans more opportunities to experience the arts. The programs are underwritten by an appropriation from the state legislature from Minnesota’s new arts and cultural heritage fund.  The new programs are intentionally broad and flexible so that a diverse array of activities can be funded. Nonprofit organizations, communities, units of government, educational institutions, arts organizations, artists, and others are encouraged to apply.

Information about the programs is now available on the Arts Board’s Web site at www.arts.state.mn.us. Application deadlines begin in early February.  If you have questions about the arts and cultural heritage fund or the new programs, contact the Arts Board at msab@arts.state.mn.us, 651-215-1600, or 800-866-2787.

–Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program—Broadband Initiatives Program Grant applications accepted February 16-March 10.  For more information go

to:  http://www.ntia.doc.gov/press/2010/BTOP_BIP_NOFAII_100115.html

–National Endowment for the Arts has grants available to nonprofits for Artist Communities: Access to Artistic Excellence.  Support is for a wide array of artistic creativity, including dance, literature, music, and more, that will preserve diverse cultural heritage and make the arts more widely available in communities throughout the country.  Deadline to

apply: March 11, 2010.  For more information, go to: http://www.arts.gov/grants/apply/GAP11/DanceAAE.html.

–USDA is offering grant funding for loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas.  Deadline:

 March 15, 2010.  For more information, and to apply go to: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-1099.htm.

–Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement Grant.  Applications are due March 15.  For more information go to: http://ruralhealth.hrsa.gov/funding/SHCPQI.asp

–The East Central Arts Council (ECAC) is pleased to announce a new grant program that will support arts and arts access, arts learning, and arts and cultural heritage across the region, and will give residents more opportunities to experience the arts.  The programs are underwritten by an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature from Minnesota’s new arts and Cultural Heritage (ACH) Fund.

The next ECAC ACH grant deadlines is April 1, 2010, for projects starting about 4 months later.  Artists, arts organizations, units of government, and organizations with an arts project are eligible to apply.

Organizations are eligible to apply for up to $15,000 and individual artists can apply for up to $2,500.  Applications are being accepted in the following categories: Arts and Arts Access, Arts Education for all ages, and Arts and Cultural Heritage.  Please take a moment to review the grant guidelines, instructions and applications, available on the ECAC website at http://www.ecrdc.org/ECAC_apps_2010.htm , to determine if your project is eligible or you can contact ECAC staff.  There will be 5 grant deadlines per year for this program.

Many information sessions regarding the new ECAC ACH Fund are being held around the region.  To find out if one is being held in your area contact ECAC by telephone (320) 679-4065 extension 30; or by e-mail at ecac@ecrdc.org.

–Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) 2011-2012 Grants.  The LCCMR has issued its 2011-2012 Request for Proposal (RFP) for funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund beginning July 1, 2011.  Proposals responding to the 2011-2012 RFP are due Friday, April 9, 2010.

 Proposals are being sought that provide multiple ecological and other public benefits in specific areas of the following eight categories:

1.  Natural Resource Data and Information 2.  Water Resources 3.  Methods to Protect, Restore, and Enhance Land and Habitat 4.  Land Acquisition for Habitat and Recreation 5.  Aquatic and Terrestrial Invasive Species 6.  Climate Change, Renewable Energy, and Air Quality 7.  Environmental Education 8.  Creative Ideas

For detailed descriptions of the specific priorities under each of the eight categories, and other information pertaining to the LCCMR’s proposal and funding process, visit the link above or visit http://www.lccmr.leg.mn  and click on “2011-2012 Request for Proposal” or http://www.lccmr.leg.mn/RequestforProposals/2011-2012/2011-2012_rfp.pdf

Anyone with a project idea consistent with the RFP may submit a proposal for consideration by the LCCMR.  LCCMR staff are available to assist proposers, answer questions, or review and provide feedback on drafts of proposals. Proposers are encouraged to submit proposal drafts to help ensure proposals are focused, clear, and contain all necessary information. Drafts must be received by April 5, 2010 to allow adequate time for staff to review.

During Summer and Fall 2010, the LCCMR will be considering all proposals received in response to the 2011-2012 RFP and selecting projects to recommend to the 2011 Minnesota Legislature.  Project funding does not become available until July 1, 2011.  It is intended that this RFP will be the only standard RFP that will be issued until February 2012 (for funding beginning July 1, 2013). Any project seeking funding to begin July 1, 2012 should reply to this RFP.


— The South West/West Central Volunteer Connections is launching the 2010 program year with the meeting topic:  “Organization & Volunteer Tax Info.”

 A local area certified public accountant will join us to present on this timely topic.  The meeting is Tuesday, February 16; 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Bremer Bank, Willmar. For questions and more information, contact Sheri Nordmeyer at 320-214-7140 or willmarcsn@yahoo.com 

–Visit the Women’s Business Network’s Destination Station on Saturday March 6, 2010 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

•         Hear inspirational speakers
•         Learn about resources
•         Visit with our clients
•         Get revved up for your entrepreneurial journey!

Admission to the Women’s Expo is FREE, but does require an admission ticket.  Tickets can be emailed to you and will be available soon.  Please contact 218-623-5731 or dawnj@entrepreneurfund.org  for your complementary ticket.  For more information on the Duluth Women’s Expo log onto www.duluthwomensexpo.com

–The Real Food Summit will be at Macalester College in St Paul March 12-14.  Students and allies from across the Midwest will gather to discuss, share, and analyze how and where student movements fit in a larger context of social change and the regional food movement.  While this conference is focused on students, all are welcome.  To find out more info about the conference and details on registration check here:


–MCN’s upcoming Nonprofit Technology and Communications Conference,

Remix*Refresh*Reload: Balancing New Media and Traditional Strategy will take place on Wednesday, March 24 at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis.

Visit MCN’s Technology and Communications Conference Web site for more information. http://www.mncn.org/nptech/dotorg_award.htm

–SAVE THE DATE – April 27, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM in Bemidji for the NMF Regional Summit  Leadership GPS – Pathways for Great Leadership with keynotes by  Ann Bancroft, Polar Explorer & Leader; Andy Wells, Wells Technology; Dr. Kathleen Annette, Indian Health Service; Kristine Paranica, University of North Dakota Center for Conflict Management. Go

to: www.nwmf.org


–Minnesota Office of Energy Security (OES), Minnesota Department of Commerce, works to move Minnesota toward a sustainable energy future, managing energy assistance funds, advocating in the public interest on energy utility rates and facility siting. It provides information and assistance to residents, builders, utilities, non-profits and policy-makers on home improvements, financial assistance, renewable technologies, policy initiatives, and utility regulations.  The comprehensive OES web site, accessible through www.energy.mn.gov contains sections on the following: 

•     Efficiency
•     Renewables
•     Utilities
•     Project Funding
•     Data and Reports
•     Low Income Assistance
•     Federal Stimulus Energy Info

In addition, the web site contains information about the latest in energy-related stimulus opportunities, incentives, and rebates along with Requests For Proposals (RFPs) for energy grants and programs. Visitors have the opportunity to sign up for email notifications about programs and resources of interest, and to ask specific energy questions through an ongoing FAQ section on the website.  The staff members of the OES Energy Information Center are also a helpful resource for information related to conservation, efficiency and renewables, and can be reached at 1-800-657-3710 (MN only), or 651-296-5175, or energy.info@state.mn.us

 –Clean Energy Resource Teams — communities working together!  The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) project is a public-private partnership that works to connect people to technical resources, research energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and projects, identify and provide project funding resources, and hosts meetings and facilitates gatherings. Its central goal is to help community members get clean energy projects on the ground in Minnesota.

At the web site you can learn more about CERTs, browse through their comprehensive resources, find out about grants offered, subscribe to regular updates, check out upcoming events, and find out who your regional contacts are! It’s worth a visit.  Go to: http://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/

–New Website: Minnesota Unemployed is a new website that provides a wealth of information about job search sites, career resources, training and education. It also helps provides a network of links to sites that address needs for housing, health care, food, money, transportation, and more.  Go to: http://www.minnesotaunemployed.com/

–SBA Online Courses – Free online courses to help prospective entrepreneurs better understand the basics about starting a small business. These self-paced courses take about 30 minutes to complete, and you can exit a course at any time. Most courses have audio components.

Covered areas include: Starting a Business; Business Planning; Business Management; Financing & Accounting; Risk Management; E-Commerce; International Trade; Federal Tax Training; Marketing & Advertising; Government Contracting; and Small Business Retirement/Exit Planning. Free registration is required.


–The Center for Rural Affairs is devoting a section its website to Renew Rural America: Strategies for Revitalizing our Communities.  The new section includes ideas for encouraging entrepreneurial small businesses, stimulating innovative community development, and opening up new opportunities for farming enterprises.  To go to the website, hold the Control key and click on http://www.cfra.org/renewrural.

Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. would like your assistance to help support and strengthen rural-urban connections — such as increasing access to local sources of healthy foods, developing green energy, caring for our water resources and spurring other innovations that can lead to business growth for the entire state.  

As part of this effort, we are hosting a series of videoconferences and are seeking input from businesses, agencies, individual Minnesotans, nonprofits, economic development groups, academic faculty, staff and students, foundations, associations, industry and a host of other groups.

Following is a brief article that provides more information. We would greatly appreciate if you would distribute this as you see fit – by including in an upcoming e-newsletter, or by forwarding this e-mail to your colleagues and/or members for their potential participation. 

For more information, please contact Deb Miller-Slipek at info@minnesotaruralpartners.org. If you are able to distribute this and can let us know with a quick note to the same e-mail address, we would greatly appreciate it.  Thank you so much.

Best regards,

Jane Leonard, President
Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. 

Minnesota Launches Pilot Project Aimed at Strengthening Rural and Urban Connections to Foster Innovation

 Minnesotans invited to contribute via videoconferences, e-mail, blog, Twitter

As part of a cooperative effort with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. is hosting a series of videoconferences through May 2010 to encourage conversations across the state about rural – urban connections that impact individual lives, communities, and work.  The goal is to foster increased innovation and job growth by leveraging the strengths of rural and urban areas. 

“There’s always been an interdependence between rural and urban areas, with our food supply being one important example of that,” said Jane Leonard, president of Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc.  “Today, more people are realizing the value of those rural-urban connections, and the benefits that come from increasing access to local sources of healthy foods, developing green energy, caring for our water resources and spurring other innovations that can lead to business growth for the entire state.   We want to get Minnesotans talking and thinking about the interdependence between rural and urban areas, as well as future opportunities arising from stronger rural-urban connections.”

Minnesotans are invited to share ideas and examples of rural-urban connections, collaborations and partnerships related to business, workforce, education, arts, food, broadband, health care, energy, and other areas.  The videoconferences will culminate in the Symposium on Small Towns and Rural-Urban Gathering at the University of Minnesota, Morris, on June 9 and 10.  People who are interested in opportunities developing through rural-urban connections are invited to attend the symposium, as well as to help establish the new Minnesota Rural Urban Partnering Council, which will be forming at the Morris symposium.

“Rural and urban areas have always been inextricably tied,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer.  “As we move ahead, the health of Minnesota’s economy as a whole will be shaped by how well we use our resources to strengthen those rural and urban connections throughout the state.”

Based on input they receive, Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. will be mapping existing rural-urban connections and examining how to expand them.  “Through the process, we hope to renew the framework for ongoing rural-urban dialogue and build new partnerships,” said Leonard. 

Participants are asked to register for videoconferences in advance at http://blog.rurb.mn/videoconferences/. The next videoconferences are:

•  Wed., Feb. 17 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Central Minnesota, and will focus on rural-urban connections, collaborations and partnerships related to manufacturing, workforce readiness and renewable energy, with videoconference sites in:

–  Brainerd
–  Staples
–  Little Falls
–  St. Cloud
–  Saint Paul 

• Wed., Feb. 24 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Southwest Minnesota, and will focus on rural-urban connections, collaborations and partnerships related to renewable energy, with videoconference sites in:

–  Montevideo
–  Marshall
–  Willmar
–  Hutchinson
–  Morris
–  Edina

For videoconference locations in each town, go to http://blog.rurb.mn/videoconferences/. Additional videoconferences will be held around the state through May 2010; details will be posted online.   Those unable to attend the videoconferences can provide input online through e-mail at feedback@rurb.mn, on Twitter at http://twitter.com/rurbmn or comment at http://blog.rurb.mn.