December 2010 – Volume VIII, Number 12

Compiled and edited by Deb Miller-Slipek, Ann Treacy, & Emily Kissane

–Across the Field
–Funding
–Meetings & Training
–Opportunities
–Miscellaneous

Across the Field – 2010 accomplishments – by Emily Kissane

Every year, the holiday season gives us the opportunity to reflect on the connections we have with other people—to appreciate established relationships and to make new ones.  Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. spent 2010 exploring the power of connections among people, organizations and communities and how those partnerships can help us in these difficult times improve the quality of life throughout the entire state.

This year’s major activities included coordinating videoconferences where people discussed regional and issue-based collaboration, participating in this summer’s Rural-Urban Gathering and Symposium on Small Towns, organizing the Minnesota Community Pride Contest and State Fair Showcase, and facilitating the new Rural Urban Partnering Steering Committee.  Many of these efforts were in done partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development as part of the RurbMN project.

At each event, we were joined by people with great ideas and attitudes.  Whether they’re encouraging young people be active in their communities, restoring local landmarks or creating new recreational areas and activities, they shared the common goal of wanting to make a difference for others.

What’s in store for 2011?  Expect to see three reports authored by Kate Searls in the critical areas of business/economic development, education and workforce development released early in the New Year.  This research will document and illustrate the interdependence of rural and urban areas of the state and includes data that can contribute significantly to policy discussions about these issues.  We also will be unveiling a system to map rural-urban connections and will continue working with the Rural Urban Partnering Steering Committee to create a framework for building and nurturing connections.

Many thanks to each of you for your participation in and support of our activities this year, and best wishes for the holidays and New Year!

FUNDING

Temper of the Times Foundation grants.  Grants from the Temper of the Times Foundation are typically between $5,000 and $15,000 and are awarded for projects related to increasing awareness about wildland ecosystem conservation and restoration in the United States. Grants may be used to fund the production of print, radio, or television ads, to pay for advertising space or airtime, or to produce or distribute pamphlets, books, videos, or press packets. Applications must be submitted to the Foundation via email by December 15, 2010. For more information, see:  http://www.temperfund.org/guidelines.html

USDA has issued the NOFA for the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI). This program provides grants to develop the capacity and ability of nonprofit organizations, low-income rural communities, or federally recognized tribes to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development in rural areas. Deadline to apply: December 22, 2010. For more information, visit: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-23764.htm.

–The Treasury Department has published the NOFA inviting applications for the FY 2011 Funding Round of the Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Program. Funds are available to CDFIs that direct at least 50 percent of their activities toward serving Native American, Alaska Native, and/or Native Hawaiians. Deadline to apply: December 22, 2010. For more information, go to: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-27802.pdf.

USDA Rural Development Solid Waste Management Grants to reduce or eliminate pollution of water resources in rural areas, and improve planning and management of solid waste sites in rural areas are now available. Funds may be used to evaluate current landfill conditions to determine threats to water resources in rural areas; provide technical assistance and/or training to enhance operator skills in the maintenance and operation of active landfills in rural areas; provide technical assistance and/or training to help associations reduce the solid waste stream; and provide technical assistance and/or training for operators of landfills in rural areas which are closed or will be closed in the near future with the development/implementation of closure plans, future land use plans, safety and maintenance planning, and closure scheduling within permit requirements.  Applications are due by December 31, 2010. $3,500,000 is available in total funding, with 35 awards expected. See one of the two web sites for more information about these grants: http://www.usda.gov/rus/water/SWMG.htm or http://www.grants.gov/search/search.do?mode=VIEW&oppId=58227

–USDA Rural Housing Service has announced the availability of Section 515 Multi-Family Housing Preservation Loan Fund Demonstration Program for FY 2011. Grants are available to nonprofit and public agencies to carry out a demonstration program to provide revolving loans for the preservation and revitalization of low-income multi-family housing in rural areas. Deadline: January 10, 2011. For more information and to apply, go to: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-28253.htm.

–HUD has dedicated $35 million to the new Capital Fund Education & Training Community Facilities Program to develop facilities to provide early childhood education, adult education or job training. Deadline to apply: January 11, 2011. While the facilities are principally for public housing residents, families in the larger community may use and benefit from their services. Applicants must identify outside financial commitments equal to at least 5 percent of the grant and must also identify at least one education or training service provider that will partner with them. Access more information at: http://www.grants.gov/search/search.do?mode=VIEW&oppId=58361.

Young Eco-Hero Awards.  Action For Nature (AFN), a non-profit organization, has created the International Young Eco-Hero Awards to recognize and reward the successful individual environmental initiatives of young people ages 8 to 16. Winners will receive public recognition, cash prizes and certificates for their outstanding efforts to help protect and preserve the environment. Winners will also serve as role models for other young people by demonstrating that each individual can make a difference.  Applications for 2011 awards are due February 28, 2011. For more information see:  http://www.laurenlepage.com/AFN/?page_id=190

The Minnesota Office of Energy Security is offering the Minnesota Small Wind Turbine Rebate for Businesses, which provides financial support for the installation of small wind turbine systems. The rebate amount is 35% of eligible system and installation costs up to $25,000.  Applicants must not begin the installation until after the rebate application has been approved, and the small wind turbine system must be installed at an existing facility owned by a business with 20 or fewer full-time employees in Minnesota. (A facility owned by a non-profit organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code is eligible, provided that the facility is used for a commercial activity and the applicant satisfies all other eligibility criteria.) Reservations for these rebates are available on a first-come, first served basis.  For more information contact the Minnesota Office of Energy Security at energy.info@state.mn.us or 800-657-3710 or go to:   http://tinyurl.com/23rjgyv

MEETINGS/TRAININGS

The useful information below about free webcasts from different federal programs was recently sent out by the US EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy listserv. This e-mail list shares news of important state and local developments in climate change and clean energy policies, programs, and opportunities. On average, participants can expect to receive one listserv message per week with new policy developments; information on new studies, reports, and upcoming events; and announcements about funding opportunities. If you find the information below of interest, consider subscribing to future e-mail notifications of similar resources from the US EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy Program through the following web site: www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/listservs/index.html

I. ENERGY STAR offers free online training to help you improve the energy performance of your organization. To register for any of these trainings or to see other upcoming ENERGY STAR trainings, visit: https://energystar.webex.com

December 15, 2010, 1:00-2:00 pm (EST): Purchasing and Procuring Efficient Equipment. ENERGY STAR will host this webcast covering resources to help your organization purchase products with superior energy performance, guidelines that define energy performance for numerous products, sample procurement language, and software that calculates the life cycle costs of products.

II. DOE offers free online training to help organizations improve their energy performance. To register for any of these trainings or to view past webcasts, visit: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wip/solutioncenter/webcasts/default.html

December 16, 2010, 1:30-2:30 pm (EST): ESPC Pricing and Financing

This webinar will provide direction and guidance on the use of the tools developed for tracking and estimating savings

III. EPA hosts the State Climate and Energy Technical Forums and Local Climate and Energy Webcast Series to assist local governments with climate change and clean energy efforts. These regular webcasts highlight EPA resources and present examples of successful state and local climate and energy programs and policies. For more information or to view past webcasts, visit: http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/web-podcasts/index.html.

December 15, 2010, 2-3:30 pm (EST): Adaptation Planning and Implementation

The second session of this webcast mini-series will focus on frameworks that state and local governments can use to assess vulnerability to climate change, develop adaptation action plans, and implement adaptation strategies for building resilience–all in the light of uncertainty regarding climate change impacts. Particular emphasis will be placed on the importance of coordinating climate mitigation and adaptation efforts and integrating adaptation considerations into existing operations. An overview of the general status of adaptation efforts across the United States will be provided, and specific state and local case studies will be shared. To register for the webcast, visit: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/114040154. Please note that the audio portion of this webcast will only be available by dialing into a toll-free conference call.

January 13, 2011, 2-3:30 pm (EST): Federal Resources and Support for Climate Change Adaptation

The third webcast in this series will discuss the role of the federal government in promoting adaptation to climate change in the United States. Presenters will summarize the recent recommendations of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) for creating a national climate change adaptation strategy; next steps for implementing this strategy; and the existing guidance, data, tools, and other resources that state and local governments can access to support their adaptation efforts. Opportunities and strategies for fostering coordination across levels of government will be highlighted, and a case study of successful collaboration will be shared. To register, visit: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/371104282. Please note that the audio portion of this webcast will only be available by dialing into a toll-free conference call.

–Adding Value Through Green Chemistry – Friday, January 7, 2011 from 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m. (doors open at 8:00 a.m.) at Cowles Auditorium, University of Minnesota, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.  Early Bird registration (by 12/15): $50 or Registration after 12/15: $70. Register today at www.greenchemistrymn.org Join Minnesota’s business, NGO, policy and academic leaders in exploring the benefits of green chemistry for businesses, our economy, public health and the environment.

–2011 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference. Registration and lodging information is now available for the 2011 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference at Grand View Lodge, January 25-26, 2011. The early registration rate is $179 (payment must be postmarked by January 14) and the second/subsequent attendees from the same organization will pay $159. Registration includes the tourism awards reception & banquet, breakfast, lunch and 2 breaks, plus great speakers and networking opportunities.
Online registration is preferred –download a registration form at http://industry.exploreminnesota.com/2011-tourism-conference-registration/ Contact Gayle Junnila at 651-757-1852 or gayle.junnila@state.mn.us for more information. As an added incentive to register early, they’ll draw a name from those registered by December 31, 2010 to receive a free registration!

–The CERTs (Clean Energy Resource Teams) 2011 Clean Energy Convergence will unite you with other Minnesotans who are blazing the paths to a clean energy future by working on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in their communities. Get ready to learn, connect, and act with CERTs and 600 engaged community members on February 2-3, 2011 in Saint Cloud, MN! CERTs 2011 is a venue for both broad and in-depth learning opportunities, connecting and networking with engaged community members, and taking action on energy efficiency and clean energy projects. The event will begin with In-Depth Workshops and an Evening Reception on February 2nd, and continue with a Daylong Conference on the 3rd.  Registration costs are as follows:

February 2 – Workshops & Reception
* Workshops & Reception: $30 ($40 after Dec 1)
* Reception Only: $10

February 3 – Daylong Conference

* Full Day Registration: $40 ($50 after Dec 1)

Some scholarships are also available.  For more information about the CERTs conference, see http://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/events/CERTs2011

The 2011 Nonprofit Technology and Communications Conference, on February 23, in Minneapolis, will delve into how to design the right eStrategy in an iWorld to build an engaged audience for your nonprofit. At this conference, you’ll have no shortage of opportunities to learn, network, share, and have some fun! You will walk away with real tools and ideas to keep your nonprofit nimble and adept. Go to:  http://tinyurl.com/33lqjjg

OPPORTUNITIES

–The Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) is soliciting entries for the America Recycles Day video contest. The contest runs from November 15th (America Recycles Day) through December 30, 2010. It is open for anyone ages 13 and older. Allied Waste is sponsoring the $500 grand prize and all of the winning videos will be shared on the RAM website as educational video’s about recycling in Minnesota.

Videos should focus on recycling and must contain the phrase “America Recycles Day” and the RAM logo and website address. Videos must be 30 seconds to one minute in length. For more details about this contest go to: http://www.seek.state.mn.us/article.cfm?id=5295

— The Recycling Association of Minnesota in partnership with the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), WCCO TV, Xcel Energy, and Ace Hardware Stores in Minnesota, is again launching Recycle Your Holidays™ for the 2010-2011 holiday season. This first-of-its-kind effort in the country began last year.

Minnesotans are encouraged to drop off their old, broken holiday lights at any participating Ace Hardware or the WCCO TV Plaza during the holiday season.  A map of all participating locations, which will accept the lights from November 15, 2010 through January 13, 2011, is provided athttp://tinyurl.com/2fu8xm8

Parks and Trails Legacy Plan Review. A draft State and Regional Parks and Trails Legacy Plan will be available for review and comment, starting in December. This legislatively mandated plan establishes a vision and guidelines funding for the next 25 years of state and regional park and trail efforts in Minnesota. You are asked to comment on recommendations regarding: connecting people to the outdoors; strategic acquisitions; taking care of existing parks and trails; and developing new opportunities to meet existing and future needs. Starting in early December, review the plan and provide feedback by visiting this website http://www.citizing.org/

MISCELLANEOUS

— The Two Faces of Rural Population Loss thorough Outmigration.  Over a third of nonmetropolitan counties lost more than 10 percent of their population over the past 20 years through net outmigration. Poverty and low education account for the high net outmigration in some of these counties, but most are relatively prosperous. Their outmigration is related to low population density, geographic isolation, and a lack of scenic amenities. Programs that reduce the disadvantages of geographic isolation and that enhance residents’ access to scenic amenities could help slow or reverse net outmigration in many nonmetro counties. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/December10/Features/RuralPopulation.htm

Local Food Supply Chains use Diverse Business Models to Satisfy Demand. Case studies of mainstream and local food supply chains reveal the variety of ways that food products move from farms to consumers. Farms in local food supply chains maintain a diverse portfolio of products and market outlets, which may help defray large fixed costs across multiple revenue streams. Local food supply chains are more likely to provide consumers with detailed information about where and by whom products were produced. See:  http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/December10/Features/SupplyChains.htm

–Varied Interests Drive Growing Popularity of Local Foods. Local foods are a growing but small component of U.S. agriculture. Although there is no consensus as to a definition of “local’ or “local food systems,” local foods typically refer to foods produced near their point of consumption. Production methods, types of producers, and whether foods are sold directly to consumers or to food distributors also define local foods. As interest in local food systems has increased, so has interest in understanding how local food markets affect farmers, consumers, and communities. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/December10/Features/LocalFoods.htm

Food Security in the United States.  The Food Security in the United States briefing room provides a central point for obtaining information about current trends in food security and the most recent reports and data related to food security. Recent statistics are based on data from the December 2009 food security survey. The percentage of U.S. households that were food insecure had increased sharply in 2008 as the recession deepened but remained essentially unchanged in 2009, at 14.7 percent. The 2008 and 2009 levels are the highest recorded since national monitoring of food security began in 1995. ERS plays a leading role in Federal research on food security in U.S. households and communities. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FoodSecurity/

–Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.  Eighty-five percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2009, meaning that they had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households (14.7 percent) were food insecure at least some time during the year, including 5.7 percent with very low food security. In households with very low food security, the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food. Prevalence rates of food insecurity and very low food security were essentially unchanged from 14.6 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively, in 2008, and remained at the highest recorded levels since 1995, when the first national food security survey was conducted. The typical food-secure household spent 33 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition. Fifty-seven percent of all food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest Federal food and nutrition assistance programs during the month prior to the 2009 survey. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR108/

The Fall 2010 issue of YES! Magazine has a special focus on creating resilient communities – communities that can continue to work and remain functional in hard times.  According to the editor, “This issue of YES! is about ways people are buffering themselves from the uncertainties of the times by creating more resilient ways of life. These people are starting urban farms, solar energy co-ops, DIY skill sharing, land trusts, and other projects. They’re turning to each other for the sort of security they didn’t find in over-leveraged homes and a speculative stock market. While many of these efforts are still on the fringes, they are gaining support, even from those not normally interested in green living.”  Articles from this issue are available for free downloading from: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/a-resilient-community and include the following among others:

* Crash Course in Resilience

* Skill Up and Party, Too

* Can You DIY?

* How Resilient Are You?

* From Vacant City Lot to Food on the Table

* Share Your Stuff

* Stories that Light Up the Dark

–Nonmetropolitan Outmigration Counties:  Some are Poor, Many are Prosperous. Population loss through net outmigration is endemic to many rural areas. Over a third of nonmetro counties lost at least 10 percent of their population through net outmigration over 1988-2008. Some of these counties have had very high poverty rates, substantial loss in manufacturing jobs, and high unemployment. Lack of economic opportunity was likely a major factor in their high outmigration. Most high net outmigration counties, however, are relatively prosperous, with low unemployment rates, low high school dropout rates, and average household incomes. For these counties, low population density and less appealing landscapes distinguish them from other nonmetro counties. Both types of outmigration counties stand out on two measures, indicating that quality-of-life factors inhibit inmigration: a lack of retirees moving in and local manufacturers citing the area’s unattractiveness as a problem in recruiting managers and professionals. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR107/

–The U.S. Produce Industry and Labor: Facing the Future in a Global Economy.  Fruit and vegetable production is a labor-intensive process, and over half of the hired workers employed by growers are believed to be unauthorized immigrants. Reforms to immigration laws, if they reduce the labor supply, may increase the cost of farm labor. The authors of this report assess how particular fruit and vegetable commodities might adjust if labor rates increased. Analysis of case studies suggests a range of possible adjustment scenarios, including increased mechanization for some crops, reduced U.S. output for a few crops, and increased use of labor aids to improve labor productivity for others. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR106/

–The Dodd- Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Changes to the Regulation of Derivatives and Their Impact on Agribusiness. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act makes significant changes to Federal regulation of the U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market, with the goals of improving market transparency and reducing systemic default risk. This article reviews some important features of the new law and discusses their potential impact on agribusiness, much of which will depend on how the rules are written and implemented by regulators. See http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/AIS89/

–How Cultural Heritage Tourism Organizations Can Beat the Recession. The recent downturn in the economy has had a major impact on many sectors of the cultural and heritage tourism industry. Amid the bad news, however, many cultural and heritage sites have found creative ways to stay true to their organization’s mission while reaching for new opportunities. To share these lessons and respond to the challenge, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Heritage Tourism Program created a survival toolkit with three key components: 11 survival strategies culled from in-depth interviews with hundreds of people and organizations nationwide; case studies that illustrate those strategies in action; and links to other online toolkits for additional information on moving forward in a bad economy. The cultural heritage tourism survival toolkit is now live at: www.preservationnation.org/survival-toolkit.

MACROECONOMIC CHALLENGES: The decade ahead .  The annual symposium hosted by the Kansas City Fed focused on the global economy’s recovery from its deepest downturn since the Great Depression.  For more information go to:  http://www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/ten/pdf/fall2010/symposium.pdf

The 12-page The Climate-Friendly Gardener: A Guide to Combating Global Warming from the Ground Up provides an interesting introduction to the connection between gardening and climate change. It “summarizes the science linking plants, soil, carbon dioxide, and other heat-trapping gases, and offers tips for planning a garden that takes advantage of these connections.”  Published by the nonprofit Union for Concerned Scientists in April 2010 and available for free downloading at: http://tinyurl.com/28fz6gv This document discusses the relationship between gardens and climate and includes Five Steps to a Climate-Friendly Garden:

1) Minimize Carbon-Emitting Inputs
2) Don’t Leave Garden Soil Naked
3) Plant Trees and Shrubs
4) Expand Recycling to the Garden
5) Think Long and Hard about Your Lawn

–The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services has issued its report to the US Secretary of Health and Human services. Topics for this year include: home and community based care for rural seniors, rural primary care workforce, and rural health care provider integration. To get the report go to: http://www.hrsa.gov/advisorycommittees/rural/2010secretaryreport.pdf

–The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University has issued a policy brief entitled “Long-Term Low Income Housing Tax Credit Policy Questions.” This study draws on existing analyses and a series of interviews with LIHTC industry practitioners to discuss issues facing the LIHTC program beyond the immediate problems engendered by the financial crisis. In particular, it looks at policy issues, including income and geographic targeting, the nature of the LIHTC investor base, and the adequacy of mechanisms for funding ongoing capital needs of LIHTC properties. To read the brief, please visit http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/publications/governmentprograms/long-term_low_income_housing_tax_credit_policy_questions.pdf.

–The Center for Rural Affairs published an article called “The Importance of Rural Grocery Stores” which says that grocery stores play a crucial role in rural communities, providing vital sources of nutrition, jobs and tax revenue that support the community. Moreover, rural grocery stores are also economic drivers, community builders and meeting places. To read the article visit: http://www.cfra.org/weeklycolumn/2010/11/09/importance-rural-grocery-stores.

–The Federal Environmental Protection Agency has issued a report called “Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities.” The report focuses on smart growth strategies that can help guide growth in rural areas while protecting natural and working lands and preserving the rural character of existing communities. To download a pdf, go to: http://icma.org/en/icma/knowledge_network/documents/kn/Document/301483/Putting_Smart_Growth_to_Work_in_Rural_CommunitiesThe Daily Yonder published an article about the report; you can read this article by clicking on this link http://www.dailyyonder.com/creating-rural-smart-growth/2010/10/14/2992.

Global Climate Change. This highlights the USDA ERS climate change research program, which builds on extensive expertise on the economics of land use, land management, technology adoption, conservation program design, and biofuels production and distribution. ERS research is underway to estimate the likely responses of farmers to possible climate policies and to assess the likely impacts of policies on agricultural markets, farm incomes, land and water use, and the carbon balance. Landowner responses to carbon policies are a key factor in establishing the costs of greenhouse gas offsets from agriculture. In fiscal 2010, the EMAGG program awarded $735,000 to 7 projects to examine the economics of agricultural activities and practices and the effects of programs and greenhouse gas markets in reducing agricultural greenhouse gases. A detailed list of funded projects is available at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/GlobalClimate/FY2010EMAGGAwards.htm.  For more information go to:  http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/GlobalClimate/

 

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