JUNE 2010 – Volume VIII, Number 6

Compiled and edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy & Jane Leonard

–Across the Field





ACROSS THE FIELD – by Jane Leonard

“Amazing” more than adequately describes last week’s Symposium on Small Towns and Rural Urban Gathering at the University of Minnesota Morris. Over 200 community leaders from across Minnesota attended to share ideas, solutions, and just plain old support for one another.

Attendance surpassed organizers’ predictions. Energy at the one evening-one day event was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Half of the attendees had never been to Morris before. What a bonus for first-timers to experience a part of their state different from their home communities.

That’s all good news for everyone concerned with Minnesota’s resilience in the face of economic challenges. Last year the 2009 event was cancelled due to low registration – it was a year beset by economic cuts and fears. Let it be said that the 2010 event exemplified hope and determination, to invest in our communities again, to know we have a thriving future ahead of us, if we put our heads and hearts together and give each other a hand up. You can see more on the combined Symposium and Rural Urban Gathering at www.centerforsmalltowns.org and www.rurb.mn.

As co-host of this event, we at Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. (MRP, Inc.) wish to thank our other co-host, the UM Morris Center for Small Towns, and other partners, such as the UM Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and the Association of Small Cities, for having the confidence and taking the risk to help people meet face-to-face again. Thanks as well to the Blandin Foundation and other sponsors. We needed everyone to pull together to pull this off, and we did! Thank You!

We want to keep the momentum going, to continue to share good ideas from communities across Minnesota. So be sure to sign up for the Reinventing Minnesota-Minnesota Community Pride Competition, hosted by the Minnesota State Fair, MRP, Inc., and MinnPost.com. The entry deadline is July 16. All communities will be recognized, winners announced, and cash awards given out at the Minnesota State Fair on Sunday, August 29. Check it out at www.reinventingminnesota.org or call Emily Kissane at 651-983-9095.


The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota’s Minnesota Main Street program assists local communities in their commercial district revitalization efforts. This first year, they have a very short application window for communities to apply and be accepted as Designated Minnesota Main Street programs due to funding time constraints.  There are 2 different designations:

Designated Minnesota Main Street Program
This is a local commercial district revitalization program that uses the Four-Point approach, has broad community support, paid staff, and meets (or will soon be able to meet) other standards.

Associate Member Community of Minnesota Main Street
This may range from a community just learning about Main Street with a group of volunteers to a long-standing downtown development group with years of success under its belt.

Applications are due no later than 5 p.m. on June 21, 2010.  For information and application information go to: http://www.mnpreservation.org/programs/main-street/  or contact Emily at enorthey@mnpreservation.org  or 651.293.9047 x 4 with questions about the application process.


 — Public Transportation on Indian Reservations – Tribal Transit Program.  The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration is inviting applications for the Public Transportation on Indian Reservation program. These funds will be competitively allocated to support planning, capital, and operating assistance for Tribal public transit services.

Grants can be awarded to recipients located in rural and small urban areas with populations under 50,000 not identified as an urbanized area by the Bureau of the Census and may be used for public transportation capital projects, operating costs of equipment and facilities for use in public transportation, planning, and the acquisition of public transportation services, including service agreements with private providers of public transportation services. Applications are due Jun 28, 2010.  For more information go to: http://www.grants.gov/search/search.do?mode=VIEW&oppId=54694

Rural Energy for America Grants.  The Rural Energy for America Program will provide funds for agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. The grants are awarded on a competitive basis and can be up to 25% of total eligible project costs. Grants are limited to $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements. Grant requests as low as $2,500 for renewable energy systems and $1,500 for energy efficiency improvements will be considered. At least 20% of the grant funds awarded must be for grants of $20,000 or less.  Applications due June 30, 2010. For more information and to access the Federal Register Notice go to: http://tinyurl.com/22u8l3e. or contact Minnesota’s Rural Development Energy Coordinator: Lisa L. Noty, USDA Rural Development, Albert Lea, 507/373-7960 Ext. 120, or lisa.noty@mn.usda.gov

 — The “2010 Reinventing Minnesota — Minnesota Community Pride Competition” is open for nominations, with winners announced and cash awards distributed August 29 at the Minnesota State Fair. The Minnesota State Fair is donating $15,000 in cash awards. Applications are due July 16.  To download the contest guidelines and applications go to: http://www.reinventingminnesota.org/mn_pride.html . The program is open to all Minnesota communities, including neighborhoods.  Special categories this year include Rural Urban Partnering and Youth-Led Community Engagement. 

Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction.  The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announces the availability of discretionary funds in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 for the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) Program. Grants will be made: (1) For capital investments that will assist in reducing the energy consumption of a transit system; or (2) for capital investments that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions of a public transportation system. Each submitted project must request a minimum of $1,000,000 and must not exceed a maximum of $25,000,000.  Applications due August 11, 2010. For details go to:  http://tinyurl.com/243cphh  .

 –Small Wind Rebates for MN Homeowners Now Available.  Rebates of up to $10,000 are now available from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security (OES) for Minnesota homeowners that install qualifying small wind turbine systems. Reservations are available on a first-come, first served basis. 

The Minnesota Small Wind Turbine Rebate for Residences provides financial support for the installation of small wind turbine systems completed after July 1, 2009 with rated capacities not more than 35 kilowatts at 24.6 miles per hour. The rebate amount is 35% of eligible system and installation costs up to $10,000.

 According to the OES, the basic steps to receive a residential Small Wind Turbine Rebate are:

1. Employ energy efficiency and conservation measures first: make your home as efficient as possible. 

2. Find out whether your location can benefit from a small wind turbine by checking the online Minnesota Wind Speed Verification Tool at http://tinyurl.com/3aduf36 . The Office of Energy Security also recommends a wind site assessment by a certified wind site assessor. A small wind site assessor can provide an objective evaluation of your specific location. The site assessor need not be the installer who completes the installation.  The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) hosts a Certified Renewable Energy Site Assessor Locator and Directory at http://www.mreacsa.org/ . The MREA certifies that these individuals or businesses have met training and testing standards developed by the MREA.

3. Learn about small wind turbine options.  The Office of Energy Security website hosts a small wind turbine section with useful information and web links at http://tinyurl.com/23pyl7l Also helpful to learn more are Minnesota Energy Information staff at 800/657-3710 (MN only), 651/296-5175, or energy.info@state.mn.us

4. Choose qualified equipment.  See a list of qualified models in the Terms and Conditions, Equipment Requirements section at http://tinyurl.com/3yshd3f  

 5. Select a small wind turbine installer.  See the publication Hiring a Renewable Energy Contractor at http://tinyurl.com/3ydtdmv  It includes a list of small wind installers serving Minnesota.

 6. Your installer should work with your electric utility on an interconnection application, if applicable, and local building officials on any applicable building codes. Your installer must secure all required permits.

 Details on the rebate and application materials can be accessed at the web site:    http://tinyurl.com/3yshd3f 

Support for K-12 Education in Company CommunitiesThe Qwest Foundation supports nonprofit organizations located in the communities served by the company in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The Foundation’s primary funding initiative, Qwest for Education, focuses on enriching the lives of children by supporting solid preK-12 educational programs. Grants are provided for programs that promote innovative models to strengthen K-12 public school education, effectively use technology, improve skills and leadership of educators and parents, enhance diversity awareness and cultural competency, and promote innovative early childhood education programs. Online requests may be submitted at any time. The application guidelines and forms are available on the Qwest website at: http://www.qwest.com/about/company/community/foundation.html


Bicycle & Pedestrian Planning Webinars.  The Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments (Metro COG) is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Fargo-Moorhead area. They are hosting a variety of bicycle/pedestrian-related webinars throughout the year.

  • June 16 • 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Central Time
    Cycle Tracks: Concept and Design Practices (recording)
  • July 21 • 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Central Time
    Bicycle Boulevards Planning and Design
  • September 15 • 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Central Time
    Integrating Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities with Transit
  • October 20 • 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Central Time
    Accommodating Pedestrians and Bicycles at Roundabouts
  • December 15 • 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Central Time
    Bike Boxes

There is no cost to attend but you must RSVP to Justin Kristan (jkristan@fmmetrocog.org or 701-232-3242 x.36) if you will be attending.  (There may be professional development credits available.)

Input Sought for Mississippi River Bike Route.  Combining the safest and most attractive road-routes available with some off-road trails, the Mississippi River Trail is a nationally significant bicycle touring route adjacent to “America’s River” from the Headwaters of the Mississippi River all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Through mid-July, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is convening six late afternoon planning meetings as follows:

Winona – June 23
Bloomington – June 24
St. Cloud – June 30
Brainerd – July 1
Grand Rapids – July 7
Bemidji – July 8

The meetings will introduce the route, review and revise its present routing, explore collaborative management approaches with local road and trail authorities, plan improvements, and develop a marketing plan. Local officials, public works directors, parks and recreation directors, chamber of commerce members, and bicycle advocates are encouraged to attend a meeting near them. For meeting locations and/directions, please e-mail liz.walton@state.mn.us or daniel.collins@state.mn.us.  For more information on the Mississippi River Trail Web site, visit: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/bike/mrt.html

–Springboard for the Arts “So You Want to Start a 501(C)3?”  Is your group considering starting a non profit arts organization, but you’re not sure what that entails?  Perhaps you’re wondering what other business structure or legal entity would accomplish similar ends?  Springboard for the Arts Director, Laura Zabel, will talk about the practical considerations, the process, and explain options such as fiscal sponsorship, partnerships or remaining unincorporated. Learn about the services available to your group when considering non-profit incorporation.  This workshop will be held Thursday, June 24, 2010, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the East Central Regional Development Commission Office, 100 Park Street South, in Mora, MN.  There is no charge for these information sessions but you must register in advance.  To register contact ECAC by telephone (320) 679-4065 extension 33; or by e-mail at ecac@ecrdc.org

Status of Women & Girls in Minnesota – a presentation on key research findings will be held on Tuesday, June 29 from 12 noon to 1:00p.m. at Bremer Bank in Willmar (500 Willmar Ave., SE).  Status of Women & Girls in Minnesota is an ongoing collaborative research project of the Women’s Foundation and the University of Minnesota’s Center on Women & Public Policy http://www.hhh.umn.edu/centers/wpp/.  Annually, data specific to Minnesota women and girls is gathered and analyzed in economics, safety and security, health and reproductive rights, and political power and leadership.  The community presentation is the seventh stop on the Women’s Foundation’s eight-city 2010 Road to Equality Tour http://www.wfmn.org/2010RoadtoEqualityTour.shtml. For more information about Status of Women & Girls in Minnesota, 2010 Road to Equality Tour visit www.wfmn.org.   For more in formation contact Naweichi Temu at naweichi@wfmn.org or 612.236.1805 or 888.337.5010 toll free.

–The Nonprofit Essentials Conference will be held July 20, 2010 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the University of St. Thomas, 11th St. S. and LaSalle Ave., Minneapolis.  It will have valuable large discussions, sixteen skill-building breakout sessions, relevant resources from nonprofit service providers and opportunities to build networks with peers. This conference provides a back-to-basics overview of the many management topics essential to nonprofits, and re-focuses staff on the core elements of working and managing nonprofit organizations.  Go to: http://mncn.org/nonprofitessentials/index.htm

–MCN’s 2010 Annual Conference – Nonprofit State Fair, is the great Minnesota nonprofit get together, where you will not only enjoy the spirit of a state fair but network with peers, learn about current nonprofit trends and issues, and share resources with one another to advance our great state, recognizing too the nonprofit spirit to keep the state fair.  This year’s conference will take place on October 7-8 in Duluth, Minnesota. 
Why should you attend? Leaders of Minnesota’s nonprofit organizations; nonprofit staff members, board members, and volunteers; professionals who work with nonprofits; foundation staff members and trustees; corporate and community leaders; local, state and federal elected and appointed officials; and job seekers and career changers will all find this conference valuable. With over 30 breakout sessions, options are available to staff with all types of job responsibilities and levels of experience.  Please visit the conference website for more information and registration. http://www.nonprofitstatefair.org

Save the Date for the 2011 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference January 25-26 at the Grand View Lodge, near Nisswa. If you have topics or speakers to recommend, are interested in being a sponsor or having a booth in the marketplace, or have any additional questions, contact Gayle Junnila at 651-757-1852 or gayle.junnila@state.mn.us.



The Community Assistantship Program is pleased to announce a fall 2010 grant program. The grant will allow rural communities to hire a student to work on a project defined by those communities. The deadline for project proposals is June 30, 2010. Approved projects will run from August 30, 2010 to January 12, 2011
Winning communities will review job applications and select the student who best meets their needs. For details on how to apply see the attachment or apply on line: http://www.cura.umn.edu/Programs/ApplicationProcess.php  

Eligible organizations include community groups, organizations, and local governments outside the seven county metro. What is CAP?  The Community Assistantship Program (CAP) provides applied research assistance to community-based groups outside the Twin Cities Metro Area. The research and technical needs of community organizations are matched with the support of talented students. The idea is simple: get the resources of a great University working with communities to address the significant issues facing the people of Minnesota. CAP projects typically place students in a community defined and directed part time research assistantship for one semester or over the summer. Students are selected by and report to the community organization. Throughout the project students are supported by a community supervisor, faculty and community mentors. 


 The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is now inviting applications from prospective host site organizations and members for the 2010-2011 year of the Minnesota GreenCorps program. Minnesota GreenCorps is an AmeriCorps program, coordinated by the MPCA, that places AmeriCorps members with organizations around the state to spend a year of service addressing critical environmental issues, while gaining experience and learning valuable job skills.
In the first year, MN GreenCorps included 18 full-time and four half-time members serving in communities on topics including energy conservation, waste prevention, living green, local foods and urban forestry.  The second year of the program will address these topics, while also branching out into additional activities to address air and water quality issues.  A summary of the first-year projects can be found at: http://www.nextstep.state.mn.us/download/mngreencorps-projects.pdf  
Applications from eligible organizations interested in hosting Minnesota GreenCorps members are due by July 8, 2010.  Additional information is at: http://www.pca.state.mn.us/mngreencorps
Local government and non-profit organizations statewide may apply to host Minnesota GreenCorps members who will serve on projects in the areas of:

– Energy Conservation and Air Quality

– Waste Prevention and Recycling
– Living Green Outreach (including local foods)
– Green Infrastructure (including forestry and stormwater assistance)
Minnesota GreenCorps members serve full time (approximately 40 hours a week) for 11 months beginning in mid to late September 2010 through August 2011. Members will be placed either in teams of two or individually at selected host sites.  Host site application packets are available by emailing mngreencorps.pca@state.mn.us  Please direct all questions to this email.

 Individuals interested in applying to serve as Minnesota GreenCorps members are also invited to apply by July 8, 2010. Member application materials are available at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/mngreencorps Up to 26 full-time member positions are expected to be filled for the 2010 – 2011 service year.   


— A helpful informational resource for those interested in small wind is the 2010 Wind Generator Buyer’s Guide, in the current June/July 2010 issue of Home Power Magazine which can be downloaded for free at:  http://homepower.com/view/?file=HP137_pg44_Woofenden .  Those interested in learning more in general about home-based renewable energy systems will find Home Power Magazine (www.homepower.com) to be an excellent resource. The magazine’s web site contains a section on Wind Electricity that you can access from the home page, which contains many other articles from past issues that can be downloaded for free. 

America’s Organic Farmers Face Issues and Opportunities.  Organic agriculture has established a foothold in many U.S. farm sectors, particularly among horticultural specialties, but the overall use of organic practices lags behind that of many other countries. Recent data from several producer surveys illustrate notable differences and similarities between organic and conventional farmers. Emerging issues in the organic sector include dampened consumer demand resulting from the weaker U.S. economy and potential competition from new labels like the “locally grown” label. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/June10/Features/AmericasOrganicFarmers.htm

–Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues.  This comprehensive overview of local food systems explores alternative definitions of local food, estimates market size and reach, describes the characteristics of local consumers and producers, and examines early indications of the economic and health impacts of local food systems. There is no consensus on a definition of “local” or “local food systems” in terms of the geographic distance between production and consumption. But defining “local” based on marketing arrangements, such as farmers selling directly to consumers at regional farmers’ markets or to schools, is well recognized. Statistics suggest that local food markets account for a small, but growing, share of U.S. agricultural production. For smaller farms, direct marketing to consumers accounts for a higher percentage of their sales than for larger farms. Findings are mixed on the impact of local food systems on local economic development and better nutrition levels among consumers, and sparse literature is so far inconclusive about whether localization reduces energy use or greenhouse gas emissions. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR97/

Next-Generation Biofuels: Near-Term Challenges and Implications for Agriculture.  This report assesses the short-term outlook for production of next-generation biofuels and the near-term challenges facing the sector. Next-generation U.S. biofuel capacity should reach about 88 million gallons in 2010, thanks in large measure to one plant becoming commercially operational in 2010, using noncellulosic animal fat to product green diesel. U.S. production capacity for cellulosic biofuels is estimated to be 10 million gallons for 2010, much less than the 100 million gallons originally mandated by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. Near-term sector challenges include reducing high capital and production costs, acquiring financial resources for precommercial development, developing new biomass supply arrangements, many of which will be with U.S. farmers, and overcoming the constraints of ethanol’s current 10-percent blending limit with gasoline. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/June10/Features/NGBiofuels.htm

–Minnesota Video Available – The 2009 Minnesota tourism film “Tourism in Minnesota: Ideas at Play” is now available at TPT’s video vault: www.mnvideovault.org. Consider using it to inform or remind your community/organization about the importance of tourism. You can view the entire 30-minute production or view it by segment, just like on the University of Minnesota Tourism Center’s webpage www.tourism.umn.edu.

–New Minnesota Calendars Developed for 2011  Explore Minnesota Tourism has partnered with MAZ Creative, LLC, in the marketing of Minnesota’s Own Calendars, a new line of calendars that reflect the unique culture of Minnesota. The calendars are made completely in Minnesota – the design, images, printing and even the paper they’re printed on. The six designs for 2011 feature some of Minnesota’s best photographers, including Peter Wong, Doug Ohman, Bill Lindner, John Gregor and Val Doherty. The calendars are full of Minnesota information and a “Buy Local” message. For information on wholesale orders, contact Sharon at 612-968-0708 or go to www.mncalendars.com

REACH is open for business. REACH is a nonprofit federal Regional Extension Assistance Center for health information technology. Providers in clinics, small hospitals and other settings in Minnesota and North Dakota are signing up now to receive electronic health record consulting services. http://www.khareach.org/

National Rural Health Resource Center is the new name of the Rural Health Resource Center, reflecting the scope of its nationwide work with rural health programs. https://www.ruralcenter.org/

–Mayo Clinic College of Medicine received a Beacon Community Award. Fifteen communities will share $220 million in federal grants to create pilot programs testing the adoption of health information technology and achieve widespread “meaningful use.” http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/05/20100504a.html

–Stratis Health developed Culture Care Connection, an online learning and resource center, to provide culturally competent care in Minnesota. http://www.culturecareconnection.org/

Recap & Videos of Angel Tax Credit Panel on MHTA.org -If you missed MHTA’s May 24 Angel Tax Credit Panel, be sure to watch the video of the event and read the liveblog on mhta.org. The panel shared their insights about how the tax credit will affect tech start-up companies and angel investors alike. http://www.mhta.org/angeltaxcredit.php